Today’s motor carrier or independent trucker has to be in step with newer regulations governing the Interstate 5 corridor, to step into a market that is both consistent and profitable.
It’s not just that newer, less polluting trucks are the only ones allowed to run within our southerly neighbor’s borders, since in most cases the motor carrier takes care of these issues for the modern truck driver. (although they also put independents ill at ease.) The main concern here is the operator’s license, and reputation with employers if fines are levied against them.
Because of California’s legislative machine efficiently churning out mandates that can post on the calendar almost weekly, the commercial carrier has to environmentally ‘cowboy up’ in order to stay competetive in the markets to the South. Many of the drivers I’ve talked with have asked their dispatchers to keep them from going into or through California because they see it as just too much to risk.
Soon (2011), all trucks within the California border will have to be fit with fuel economy fixes like the Aeroflex trailer skirt and other modifications. I know a few drivers already cited for idle, one who had 2 infractions on one day that amounted to $1300 in fines. Fleet motor carriers have the most to lose considering that potential daily fines for a non-California-configured, and operated vehicle could remove their profitability even forcing revenues in the other direction, and channeling them into State governments.
That is one side of this issue, but according to some, there’s a lot more at stake. California is seen to have an unusually high incidence of asthma and other respiratory illnesses, and pollutants are seen as the source. To compare the savings in hospital visits, medicine, and of care for cancers & birth defects, trucks and fleet budgets take a quick back seat and sit low. Still there is no amount of overwhelming evidence that any of the changes and hurdles and even the particle scrubbing super burners are going to lower those numbers in the decades to come. It is simply ‘the most we can do right now’. It shows where the heart is, doesn’t it?
Some have asked the obvious question of California; a state where air quality has been rated as one of the worst, also a state severely in the red financially, so on the gripping hand; is the bird in the air worth catching the two in the bush?