CARB snitch?
California says it will enforce Truck and Bus Rule by summer. Its best tips, enforcement head says, are from truck owners reporting the competition.

By Charlie Morasch, contributing writer

While “snitching” is associated with urban law enforcement or the difficulties of prosecuting organized crime, one state is counting on such tips from within the industry to keep noncompliant trucks out of its borders.

California has begun enforcement for most commercial trucks and buses to meet its Truck and Bus Regulation. The rule, which mandates diesel particulate filters for trucks with 1996-2006 model year engines, is CARB’s costliest diesel truck rule.

Paul Jacobs, CARB’s chief of mobile enforcement, said his staff is getting most of its information about noncompliant trucks from other trucking companies.

“The way we find most of our violations and come up with most of our cases is people in the industry ratting out unfair competition,” Jacobs told Land Line Magazine. “I have numerous calls and emails saying that ‘Joe’s Produce,’ or ‘Joe’s Trucking’ is not complying so you need to check them out. It’s pretty rampant in terms of these folks ratting out each other. Which is fine, it’s all about a level playing field.”

“It’s time to comply,” Jacobs said. “Most people comply with this rule, but we are out actively looking for folks that don’t comply.”

In addition to tips from within the trucking industry, Jacobs works with law enforcement officers in one of two ways: working side by side with California Highway Patrol offices, or contracting with local police departments and air districts to handle emissions enforcement without CARB’s on-scene assistance.

When working with the CHP, Jacobs says CARB sets up the equivalent of emissions checkpoints at weigh stations, border crossings and on roadsides. While a California Highway Patrol officer conducts a safety inspection, a uniformed CARB enforcement staff member will inspect engine labeling and other CARB-mandated regulations.

Truckers typically will see a blue pickup truck with a camper shell parked near a black and white CHP cruiser, Jacobs said. The trucks are unmarked.

“We don’t have flashing lights or anything like that,” he said. “We’re not peace officers. They’re the ones that pull trucks over.”

CHP has enforcement power to require trucks and other vehicles to pull over for inspection without probable cause, Jacobs said. While troopers perform Level I inspections, any of the 12 CARB enforcement officers focused on diesel emissions ensure that trucks and reefers meet air quality regulations.

Some cops can write CARB emissions tickets on their own.

Local air districts and police departments may contract with CARB to enforce diesel regulations, Jacobs said. The Port of Los Angeles Police Department and air district employees in California’s Bay Area, for instance, can write citations for emissions violations without CARB staff present, Jacobs said.

The number of police departments and local air districts enforcing CARB regulations is increasing, Jacobs said.

“There are other air districts that have contracts as well, and there are other air districts that are going to be coming on board because it’s all about adequate enforcement,” Jacobs said. “Most people comply. We’re just chasing the small percentage that doesn’t play by the rules. We want to have a fair, competitive market.”

Tickets aren’t the only deterrent CARB uses.

Trucks registered with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles can be flagged and denied renewal if they don’t bring a cited truck into compliance. Trucking companies typically have 45 days after a citation to show they fixed the problem, Jacobs said.

“If we do find a truck that’s in violation and if the company that owns the truck doesn’t bring it into compliance, then we can place a registration block in the Department of Motor Vehicles on that truck,” Jacobs said. “That’s authority we’ve had since 2007 under Assembly Bill 233.”

Jacobs said truck owners can look at the online classes and other information to keep current on California emissions rules and on specific ways to ensure their vehicles are compliant. Truck owners should visit CARB’s Truck Stop website and sign up for email notifications to stay up to date on regulations and enforcement, Jacobs said. In addition to CARB’s 866-6DIESEL hotline, the California Commercial Driver’s Handbook also lists valuable information about the state’s diesel regulations, he said.

While CARB’s regulations are comprehensive and ever-changing, the best emissions advice is sometimes as simple as maintenance.

“The key to compliance is maintaining the trucks and buses at factory specifications,” Jacobs said. “They have to be maintained with no tampering. That’s especially critical with after-treatment. They can’t ignore turbo seals that are leaking and blown injector tips and that kind of stuff. For the diesel particulate filters, it’s all about service.” LL