California bill would end smoke testing requirement for certain trucks

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/28/2012

California truck drivers will likely welcome the news about a new bill at the statehouse that would keep some money in their pockets.

An Assembly bill would do away with a mandate that certain trucks based in the state undergo smoke testing.

The state’s Air Resources Board now requires owners or operators of at least two California-based trucks, with gross vehicle weight ratings of at least 14,000 pounds, to undergo annual inspections of their vehicles for excessive emissions of smoke.

The Periodic Smoke Inspection Program also mandates that truck models from 1998 and older, with weight ratings more than 6,000 pounds, be tested for smoke opacity.

An exception is made for affected trucks until after the fourth model year of the engine. In addition, one-truck operations also are exempt from the testing requirement.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, the bill would mandate that CARB change the testing requirements to exempt trucks with 2007 and newer model-year engines.

Lara’s bill does not stop there. In 2023, all affected trucks would no longer be required to undergo smoke tests.

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA’s director of regulatory affairs, said the bill would at least reduce some of the regulatory burden and costs associated with a CARB regulation that exists only to perpetuate the bureaucracy.

“Annual smoke testing for ’07 or newer trucks is an example of an overzealous and regulatory action,” Rajkovacz said. “One could also easily make the case that the entire PSIP program is unnecessary since CARB has other enforcement mechanisms at its disposal if a truck is found emitting ‘too much’ smoke while operating on the highway.”

Rajkovacz also said the change would save California truckers a lot of money.

Truck operations typically pay between $45 and $100 to have smoke opacity testing done. Failure to abide by the rule can result in fines of at least $500 per vehicle, per year.

Rajkovacz said that when various fees are added it is not uncommon for fines to quickly get out of hand.

In fact, a 2009 Land Line article detailed two in-state companies tagged for $700,000 in diesel fines related to the testing program.

The bill – AB1922 – is awaiting assignment to committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for California, click here.

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