California’s emissions mandate impacts transportation
This post is part of a series sponsored by IAT Insurance Group.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is doing everything it can to reduce emissions.
From moving and storage vehicles to buses, freight trucks, and even agri-food vehicles that were previously not required to comply, CARB regulations require heavy-duty vehicle engines to be upgraded or retrofitted. Regardless of where the vehicle is registered, all carriers transporting freight in California are required to comply.
Combine that with the lifting of Assembly Bill 5, that changed the definition of who qualifies as an independent contractor (IC), and there’s even more pressure on an already taxed industry in California.
What you need to know based on your vehicle size
Meeting these new mandates depends on the Engine Model Year (EMY) of your vehicle and the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of the truck. The table below details the time required to upgrade and install a PM filter depending on the weight and year of the truck. Note that all vehicles with a 2010 or newer EMY are fully compliant.
EMY program for heavier vehicles (>26,000 lbs)
Vehicles with an engine model year (EMY) of 2004 and earlier must have a particulate filter (PM) upgraded and installed by January 1, 2021.
|EMY||Level 3 PM filter||Emy 2010 by|
|2005 or newer||1st of January 2014||January 1, 2022|
|2007 – 2009||If already equipped||January 1, 2023|
Lighter vehicles (14,001 to 26,000 lbs)
Lighter vehicles do not need a level 3 PM filter according to the new regulations. Vehicles with a 2003 and earlier EMY were required to have a 2010 EMY by January 1, 2020.
|EMY||Emy 2010 by|
|2004 – 2006||January 1, 2021|
|2007 – 2009||January 1, 2023|
Under the new regulations, refrigerated trailers and trucks cannot have an engine older than seven years. As of January 1, 2022, the engine of the refrigerated unit cannot be older than 2005. These changes will be made gradually, starting on January 1 of each year. Thus, on January 1, 2023, refrigeration unit motors cannot be older than 2006.
How will the Department of Transportation (DOT) enforce this?
As of 2020, the California Department of Transportation, known as Caltrans, verifies compliance with regulations when registering new vehicles. Vehicles that are a 2010 model or older must have a 2010 engine by January 1, 2023 or owners will not be allowed to register their vehicle(s).
But compliance has not been easy. Due to the current supply chain crisis, some motor carriers and independent contractors have been waiting for more than a year for new trucks and improved engines. These supply chain issues are causing truckers to consider staying off the road – and not making a living – or driving trucks illegally. Many owners may choose to keep fleets operating locally to avoid Caltrans roadside inspections and face the repercussions of non-compliance.
All carriers traveling to California must obtain CARB certification for their fleets. Carriers can obtain CARB certification and print certificates for drivers at www.arb.ca.gov only after fleets provide accurate information and meet compliance standards.
For trucks that are non-compliant, CARB may issue Caltrans DOT blocks upon vehicle registration, requiring owners to process the blocks before their vehicle can be re-registered. For this reason, many motor carriers choose to transport goods through East Coast ports and ship them by rail to their West Coast location.
What is the impact on independent contractors (IC)?
All businesses must upgrade or modernize their vehicles to stay compliant. But it’s tough on the IC, which may not have the funds to meet California’s new emissions mandates..
Motor carriers may wish to consider employing their ICs to ensure drivers adhere to safety mandates and meet compliance standards. While the combination of California emissions regulations and AB 5 poses ongoing questions, motor carriers and ICs can rely on insurance brokers to find optimal coverage solutions.
Contact IAT Insurance to learn more about the impact of California emissions regulations on commercial transportation coverage.
By Nancy Ross-Anderson, Loss Control Specialist
 Freight Waves “Lower Court Officially Lifts Injunction Against AB5 in California Trucking”, August 29, 2022.
 California Air Resources Board “Guide to California Air Quality Regulations for Heavy-Duty Diesel Vehicles,” February 2020.
The most important insurance news, delivered to your inbox every working day.
Receive the trusted insurance industry newsletter