CARB Regulations: A Financial Challenge for Owner-Operators
I got my commercial driver’s license (CDL) in 2005. I was a company driver for a year and a half before I purchased a truck and started my own business in 2006—just before California Air Resource Board (CARB) regulations existed. At the time I had no way of knowing how the regulations would one day affect my business.
The role of owner-operators in today’s world is challenging enough without the added regulations of the CARB. To stay compliant, these regulations add a large financial burden on owner-operators. It often requires updating current equipment or purchasing entirely new equipment.
I paid off my truck in 2010. In order to stay compliant with CARB regulations, however, I needed to either purchase an $18,000 diesel particulate filter for my current equipment or buy a compliant tractor (from 2009 or newer). I chose to purchase a used 2009 tractor, which I will pay for over the next five years. As I operate a temperature controlled trailer, I had additional expenses to consider. My 2004 trailer was not also non-CARB compliant—it missed the cut off by one year—therefore, I had to pay an additional $6,000 for a particulate matter filter to bring my trailer up to standard.
Beyond the financial aspect, understanding the CARB regulations is a complex and sometimes confusing issue. CARB consists of four separate regulations—each with a different implementation date. Finding out which ones apply to your business can be frustrating. Luckily, there are resources available to help answer your questions. In fact, the best resource I have found is The Truckstop, a website offered by the state of California for diesel truck information.
Owner-operators based in California have two choices when it comes to CARB regulations: pay whatever it takes to stay compliant or go out of business. Small trucking companies and owner-operators located outside of California have the option of avoiding loads in California. However, this can be difficult if you are located in a nearby region. Larger companies that are able to lease equipment for five years are least affected financially, as the equipment is always being updated and will be better able to meet changing regulations.
If I had been able to predict how costly the CARB regulations would be for my business, I may have done things differently. Unfortunately, I do not see any changes in the near future—except for the reduction and possible elimination of small trucking companies in and around California.
I’ve made my choice. I do my best to keep my equipment updated and just keep trucking through the obstacles CARB regulations cause. I would love to hear how the CARB regulation have impacted you, whether you’re an owner-operator or trucking company, large or small. Please leave your comments below.