New Trucking Rule Could Have Multiple Wide Spread Effects

by Jana Ritter - Published: 5/17/2013

A panel of industry experts outlined a new trucking regulation and its many implications during the Expert Council Workshop Series, May 15, at United Fresh 2013. The new California rule may affect everyone from trucking companies to the fresh produce industry, from the shipper all the way to the retailer.

Highway trucks

The California Air Resources Board's Transportation Refrigeration Unit was addressed by Kenny Lund, vice president, support services, for The Allen Lund Co. Inc., La Canada, and chairman of the United Fresh Supply Chain & Logistics Council. The rule requires all reefer units operating within California or entering the state to have engines manufactured in 2007 or later. To comply, older units can be retrofitted with an Environmental Protection Agency-approved filter designed to remove 85% of the particular matter produced. But Lund says the filters cost at least $8,500 and have been plagued by performance issues, so few operators have chosen this route.

“It's simple economics,” he said. “Coming out of this recession, they don't have the financial wherewithal to comply with some of these rules.” In surveying the hundreds of small owner-operators that Alan Lund contracts with to haul produce, only 25%-30% meet the CARB regulation, Lund said. “So if you're 25% compliant, how do you eliminate 75% of the trucks and move half of the U.S.'s produce? And how can the state (of California) regulate interstate commerce?”

Although CARB doesn't have the authority to stop truckers, it teams with the California Highway Patrol, explained Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs and communications for the Western Trucking Alliance, Upland. He also explained that in addition, CARB's two dozen or so inspectors focus on areas where large numbers of truckers congregate, such as the Flying J Truck Stop near Barstow, to perform spot inspections. Rajkovacz said he's already heard anecdotal stories of out-of-state truckers refusing to haul into California because of the regulations.

Not only can CARB ticket drivers of non-compliant reefer units, but it also can fine shippers, truck brokers and even produce receivers for knowingly using non-compliant truckers, he said. The state already has made headlines by fining an Ontario, Calif., egg producer $300,000 for using non-compliant units. Rajkovacz is also concerned that New Jersey and Oregon also are exploring similar rules.

The workshop also addressed similar concerns about the widespread implications of the upcoming revised national hours of service federal regulation, expected to become effective July 1. Not only would it require companies to hire more drivers, adding to the truck driver shortage, the industry estimates the new rest provisions could extend overall