Are You Watching Your CARBs?

Posted by Harriet Mills on Nov 26, 2012 4:30:02 PM

To the many of us who are somewhat health conscious, we have always been told that we should watch our “carbs” in order to lose (or gain) weight, and in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.   We are told that totally eliminating carbs is a bad idea; too many carbs can result in weight gain; and some kinds of carbs are actually far better than others.  In this realm, we are speaking of “carbs” as in carbohydrates.  

 However, those of us who have anything to do with the transportation industry now have another “carb” to watch out for.   This one has nothing to do with the health of our body, but rather the health of our business.   In this instance, “CARB” is actually an acronym that stands for the California Air Resources Board, who recently passed additional requirements that will affect brokers, freight forwarders, shippers, receivers, motor carriers, and their drivers, beginning January 1, 2013.  The reasoning for these additional requirements (as stated by CARB) is that CARB staff investigators recently found a greater frequency of noncompliance among carriers hired by brokers, freight forwarders, shippers, and receivers compared to private fleets.  They feel that the operation of TRUs (which is what we call refrigerterated units) that do not comply with their TRU ATCM in-use engine emissions standards exposes the public to greater potential cancer risks, also violates the TRU ATCM, and can result in an unfair economic advantage for those carriers who do not comply.   They state that 90 percent of Californians breathe unhealthy air and that the enforcing of these requirements will improve air quality and human health.   Interestingly, though, even private fleets have to abide by the same CARB requirements as non-private fleets, and prove compliancy. 


What it basically boils down to is that almost anyone affiliated in any shape, form, or fashion with the carrier transporting a load into, out of, or through California has to abide by these new requirements.   The requirements not only apply to trucks, but to any type of reefer-equipped truck, tractor-trailer, shipping container, or railcar that transports on California roadways or railways.  It does not matter where the load originates, or where it ends, where the carrier is domiciled, etc.; if it touches California soil, the requirements apply.  It also applies regardless of where the broker or freight forwarder is based or conducting business from. 


The requirements are stated in such a way that they differ based on just how you are affiliated.  For example, if you are a broker or freight forwarder, you must require that any carrier you arrange, hire, contract with, or dispatch utilizes only those trucks and trailers equipped with reefer units that comply with CARB’s TRU ATCM in-use standards, as well as provide contact information to the carrier of all who are affiliated with the load so that drivers can give the information to authorized personnel, if requested.  The contact information includes the broker or forwarder’s company name, complete street address, and the name and number of a contact person. 


If you are a California-based shipper or a California-based receiver, then you must require that any carrier you arrange, hire, contract with, or dispatch utilize only those trucks and trailers equipped with reefer units that comply with CARB’s TRU ATCM in-use standards, as well as require the carriers that any broker or freight forwarder provides for the transport to be compliant.  In addition, the shipper must provide to the carrier the same contact information as above for the shipper, receiver, broker or freight forwarder, as well as the name and number of a contact person at each. 


Motor carriers are required to utilize, and dispatch, only those trucks and trailers that are equipped with TRUs (reefer units) that comply with CARB’s TRU ATCM in-use standards.  Additionally, they are required to provide the dispatched driver with the motor carrier’s name and complete street address, a contact name with phone number, and the same information for the business entity that hired the motor carrier, whether it is the broker, forwarder, shipper, or receiver. 


As for drivers, themselves, they are prohibited from operating a TRU that is not compliant with CARB’s TRU-ATCM in-use performance standards on anyCaliforniahighways.  A unit that has the capability of being operated is considered to be operating any time it is inCalifornia, whether it is actually running or not.  If a unit is not going to be used while inCaliforniait must be disabled as per CARB’s standards.   In addition, any time a driver is pulled over by authorized enforcement personnel, they are required to be able to provide a valid drivers license, truck or both tractor and trailer registration, copy of bill of lading with origin and destination of cargo being transported, shipper’s name and complete address, receiver’s name and complete address, motor carrier’s contact information, and the same information for the business entity that hired the motor carrier, whether it is the broker, forwarder, shipper, or receiver.  


As for the authorized enforcement of the new requirements, it will be CARB’s Enforcement Division staff, as well as theportofLos Angeles PoliceDepartment, and other currently un-named local districts that will be conducting inspections, as well as issuing citations.  Inspections can be held at any time at border crossings, distribution centers, scales (both private and non-private), roadside inspection stations, agriculture inspection stations, ports, rail yards, and intermodal facilities.  In other words, there can be an inspection anywhere there is a truck.  When a violation is found, CARB may cite the driver, the carrier, the broker, the freight forwarder, the shipper, and/or the receiver.


If a carrier is found to be in violation of CARB’s regulations, they may be cited and subject to a penalty of $1,000 per occurrence.  The provisions in the code also provide that any, and all, of the other parties involved in the transaction can be fined, as well.   This means that in addition to the carrier being fined, penalties of $1,000 each for the shipper, receiver, broker, forwarder, and the driver can be assessed.  When it comes to the cost of ensuring that units are compliant in order to avoid the fines, the jury is still out with the verdict.  No one knows exactly how much it will cost carriers with older units to become compliant, or to replace non-compliant units with newer, more efficient ones. 


The saving grace in all of this is that if a shipper, receiver, broker, or forwarder receives a citation for a non-compliant carrier, CARB will consider any relevant circumstances, such as how carefully the hiring party chose its carrier.  Therefore, in order to protect themselves, and avoid citations, brokers and/or forwarders, etc., should begin asking carriers to provide proof of compliance with CARB.   Carriers must register their units (each and every one) on ARBER, which is CARB’s online TRU registration system.   Carriers based inCaliforniahave no choice as they are required to register, but those based outsideCaliforniamay do so on a voluntary basis.   Once a carrier’s unit is certified, the carrier can then print out a certification page from ARBER that identifies the reefer unit, as well as show its compliance status and compliant-through date.  


ARB also has a database, available to the public, of those carriers who are 100 Percent-Compliant Carriers, which is continuously updated.   Users can identify these carriers by entering a carrier’s MC number, or by entering the carrier’s company name.   They can also download a list of all 100 Percent-Compliant Carriers.   However, keep in mind that the key word here is 100 Percent.  Since the list is continuously updated, it is up to the user to assure that they are using the most current and up-to-date list, if downloaded. 


In order to protect themselves further, it is advised that shippers, receivers, brokers, and forwarders also include language in their contract agreements that clearly requires only CARB-compliant reefer units when the transport includes usingCaliforniahighways and railways.  This language should be noted in such a way that it is easily recognizable in the body of the contract (such as bold and/or italicized print), and in such a way that it requires a representative’s initials, acknowledging the understanding of the requirement.  Any “posting” of loads (or other advertisement) should include notification that only equipment that is CARB compliant can be used.   Any communication between the parties, such as load tenders, rate confirmations, etc., should also include similar language that stands out, and specifies the requirement.  All documentation in regards to the load should be kept evidencing the steps taken to ensure compliancy, as well as a copy of the ARBER certification page.  This “evidence” should go a long way in proving your case if, and when, a violation occurs, and to show that you had a reasonable expectation that the carrier would use only that equipment that was compliant, and certified. 


The afore-mentioned requirements can be found in the TRU ATCM (Title 13, California Code of Regulations); Sections 2477.8 (brokers and freight forwarders), 2477.10 (California-based shippers), 2477.11 (California-based receivers), 2477.9 (carriers), and Section 2477.7 (drivers).    You can visit the CARB website at, or you can call the Help Line at 888-TRU-ATCM  (888-878-2826), if you have any questions.  If you prefer to e-mail, you can do so to  


Keep in mind that revisions of the requirements can be made at any time.  In order to be kept abreast of the revisions, when published, you can ask to be placed on CARB’s mailing list, TRU List Serve at

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