SACRAMENTO, Calif. – As New York’s famous Times Square Ball drops at midnight, a global audience of more than a billion will watch New Yorkers ring in the New Year.
For truckers and fleets across the US, Canada and Mexico, New Year’s will also christen in healthy fines should they cross into California without SmartWay-verified aerodynamic devices – like side skirts that improve fuel economy 4-5% – on their 53-ft. or longer box and refrigerated trailers and low rolling resistance tires that improve fuel efficiency even more. SmartWay-verified tires cannot be used to help meet the 4-5% requirement, but will add an additional 3% improvement for both the tractor and trailer. SmartWay-verified tires won’t be required on 2010 and older box trailers until January 2017.
“The clock is ticking for compliance,” said Randy Rhondeau, air pollution specialist for California’s Air Resources Board (CARB). “Fleets and owner/operators who travel into California must have aerodynamic devices, unless they registered with CARB on a phase-in option (which provides an alternate compliance schedule). If you’re pulled over for non-compliance, the owner of the tractor or trailer can be cited $1,000 per day. The driver of the tractor or trailer is not off the hook either – that person can be fined $1,000 a day as well. Fines can increase to $10,000 per day for egregious, repeat offenders.”
Rhondeau said ignorance is not bliss. “Information has been out there for quite some time, so if someone comes in and pleads ignorance, it’s not going to hold water. If we catch violators, they’re getting a citation.”
According to Sean Graham, president of Freight Wing, makers of SmartWay-verified trailer side skirts and gap fairings, the CARB deadline is meaning a dash for compliance. “We’re fielding a lot of calls asking about what’s needed; and we’re working with fleets and owner/operators, getting them set up with skirts,” Graham said. “One thing we recommend to all those needing trailer side skirts is to do your homework. There are several on the market, but don’t just go out and purchase any model so you’ll be compliant. Research what is best for your operation.”
Graham said that all SmartWay-verified skirts will allow you to pass through California, “but you really need to look at skirts that will pass the test of time. Durability is the number one issue – you don’t want to learn the hard way and repurchase side skirts again in a year.”
For fleets behind the eight ball and needing numerous trailers outfitted before the deadline, Graham said Freight Wing has put together mobile installation teams to help customers with fitments.
“We’ve found that it’s a great service to fleets that don’t have the manpower to self install,” he said. “For the do-it-your-selfer, it takes four-to-five man hours for an installation. But, like with anything, the more you do it, the faster they can be mounted and our teams can efficiently help fleets with the process.”
While the CARB mandate might seem to be heavy-handed government at work, Graham said that in this case in particular, aerodynamic fairings on trailers have a very fast payback.
“We’ve worked with many large fleets which have documented real-world fuel savings of up to 4% with our skirts,” he said. “In testing, at sustained speeds, our SAE testing has shown up to a 7% improvement. If you do the math, our skirts can have a payback in as little as 35,000 miles of trailer utilization. It’s one of the fastest paybacks in the trucking industry.”
More info on CARB trailer aerodynamics According to Rhondeau, owners, drivers, fleet operators, California-based brokers, California-based shippers and motor carriers should be fully aware of all the rules.
CARB will allow a one-time per fleet per year (one tractor) exemption into the state for a trucking company or owner/operator, but the request must be made to CARB via an e-mail or written request and approved before entering California.
In addition, if registered with CARB, local haul 53-foot trailers are exempt from the aerodynamic requirements of the rule, but they must not go beyond 100 miles from their home base. Empty trailers are also exempt.
Short-haul tractors and the trailers they pull are exempt but the tractor must be entered into CARB’s database and tractor mileage must be 50,000 miles or lower per year. For more information on the rules go to the CARB Web site at www.arb.ca.gov.
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