“Ground control to Major CARB …”

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We can be a valuable resource to CARB [California Air Resources Board] in providing real world data on the impact of regulations.” –Patrick O'Connor, U.S. legislative counsel for the NAFA Fleet Management Association, on the formation of the group’s new CARB Advisory Council

There’s certainly no dearth of opinions out there about the many federal, state, and local regulations governing daily life in the trucking industry. But when you connect opinion to data – real-world fleet data – that’s when the nature of debate over regulations starts to change.

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Data, of course, can be manipulated, skewing any such debate to a degree – for, as the famous British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said (seen at right), there are three kinds of lies in this world; lies, damn lies, and statistics.

Still, that being said, data regarding the impact of government regulations on trucking operations at the very least allows for a moment of reflection to question – is this chosen course of action going to deliver the expected benefits?

This is but one of the reasons why the NAFA Fleet Management Association (formerly known as the National Association of Fleet Administrators or just “NAFA”) recently created the NAFA CARB Advisory Council, a new sub-committee of the group’s Fuels & Technology Advisory Council, to provide input to both NAFA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on regulatory matters that impact fleet managers operating vehicles in the Golden State.

“CARB’s regulatory efforts impact every aspect of fleet management … and our members are responsible vehicles that range from company cars, to delivery vehicles, to off-road vehicles, to work trucks, to the snow plows that operate in the Sierras,” Patrick O'Connor, NAFA’s U.S. legislative counsel, told me recently.

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“We formed this new sub-committee to ensure that NAFA members in California as well as those based outside of California that are responsible for vehicles in California are aware of pending regulatory efforts and have the opportunity to provide input to CARB,” he stressed. “NAFA members can be a valuable resource to CARB in providing real world data on the impact of regulations.”

And therein is the key to all of this – providing real-world data on the impact of regulations. Because of the diverse nature of fleets, there is not just one challenge when it comes to dealing with emission regulations, O’Connor told me.

Look at what CARB’s been up to in just the past year alone. The state agency announced that it will begin regulating the emissions of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) from electric utility equipment starting in 2011; fined several California companies for failing to inspect their diesel trucks; and held a public meeting as a first step towards the possibility of mandating fleet acquisition of hybrid trucks.

So NAFA formed its new advisory council – which it hopes will be up and running this fall – to establish itself as a credible source of fleet information for CARB, hoping to engage in regular meetings with the agency’s leadership and staff to craft and support realistic emissions reductions and fuel efficiency efforts instead of mandates that have no basis in fiscal reality.

In addition – and this is important, too – the council will keep NAFA members up-to-date on any new or potential legislation that could affect them. For there’s nothing like having a “listening outpost” to provide ample warning about impending regulatory efforts -- efforts that could potentially add significant costs to a fleet’s bottom line.

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Trucks at Work: Sean Kilcarr comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry.

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