California CARB Compliance for Freight Brokers and Shippers

June 15, 2022
Cassandra Gaines
Thomas Bray (J.J. Keller & Associates)

Everyone in the industry, shippers, brokers, or truckers, needs to know what California CARB compliance and violations are because they will affect everyone in the country, and many do not know anything about it.  

We sat down with Thomas Bray, Sr. Industry Business Advisor with J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc., to discuss how everyone can avoid a CARB ticket when driving in and out of the state of California. Here are the highlights of our conversation!

What is California CARB?

CARB stands for the California Air Resources Board, and they have been around since the 60s. They are in charge of controlling everything coming into the State of California's air.  

CARB's mandate is to ensure the air in California is clean, and that's why they control what comes into the State and, therefore, get involved with the transportation industry.  

How Is the CARB Law in California Involved in the Transportation Industry?

“You’re only in trouble if you’ve got the older equipment. If you’re running modern equipment, your typical fleet, running a two-to-five-year trade cycle, and you’re running your reefer units five, six, ten years, you’ll be okay. They might have a little trouble with some of the reefers that are older than seven years. But if you’re running newer equipment, it’s not going to be a big issue for you. It’s for the older stuff that needs to be retrofitted, then you really do need to be aware of what the rules are and what’s going on with them.” - Thomas Bray, a J.J. Keller's Trucking Specialist.

As CARB writes the emission standards, trucking companies must abide by these standards if they want to transport their freight through the State of California.  

A unique requirement in California occurs when diesel vehicles reach a certain age. When it does, it must be retrofitted. These older vehicles must get cleaned up to meet the newer standard for emissions.  

The retrofitting rate varies.  Anything older than the model year 2007 must be retrofitted with an engine that meets those 2010 emissions. Eventually, the vehicle with 2007 to 2009 model year engines will also need to be retrofitted with engines meeting the 2010 emissions standards.  

California Carb Compliance For Trucks

These standards are not just for vehicles based in California; they apply to trucks moving across the entire country. For instance, if you’re moving a truck from Wisconsin to California, it must meet the CARB standards. And even if your destination is not California and you’re just passing by the State, you need to comply with CARB standards.  

Even though these standards may be strict, carriers have specific incentives to shift to newer trucks or get their trucks retrofitted to ensure the air is clean.  

Does The California CARB Compliance Apply In Other States?

The emission requirements are standard across the entire country. The EPA is nationwide; therefore, you must be aware of them in every State. For instance, Texas, Illinois, New Jersey, and other states have emissions testing in certain areas, and they can do smug checking as well.  

This is not a new concept, but what’s different for California is the retrofitting of trucks to meet the more modern emission standards and requiring them to be more aerodynamic.  

How Do CARB Regulations Affect Freight Shippers And Brokers?

Shippers and freight broker companies must consider the California CARB regulations. If a shipper or a broker hires a carrier that does not abide by the CARB regulations, they can get a ticket as well. Therefore, they must make sure these companies comply with the CARB regulations. As you are hiring the carrier, you are liable as well.  

How Can Freight Shippers and Brokers Ensure They Comply With CARB Regulations?

  • Check the Truck and Bus database, where carriers enter their information and show that they’re compliant with these regulations. These carriers have a certificate that shippers and brokers can be on the lookout for when hiring them. Shippers and brokers can have peace of mind with this certificate since it assures them that the carrier is compliant.  
  • You may also ask your carriers the age of their vehicles directly and if they comply with CARB.  
  • Shippers and brokers can also word some specific language into their contracts, referring to the compliance with these regulations.  
  • For refrigerated vehicles, you can check for their ARB ID number (if they are based in California).
  • Document all the steps you have taken to ensure your carriers are compliant.
  • In general, when it comes to California CARB compliance, you have to do your due diligence.