What Are the Reasons for Cargo Backlog?


  • President Joe Biden announced Oct. 13 that the port of Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest, had agreed to operate around the clock.
  • This will help fix supply chain issues across the country.
  • This is the first key step toward moving our entire freight transportation and logistical supply chain, nationwide, to a 24/7 system.

A recent news article published in the USA Today by Daniel Funke states that California trucking regulations aren’t to blame for cargo backlog.

Announcement came amid a backlog of cargo

The announcement came amid a backlog of cargo on the West Coast, spurred in part by an increase in consumer spending as pandemic restrictions ease. The delays came to a head in September, when a record number of ships waited off the California coast to deliver cargo.

On social media, some have adopted an alternative explanation for the backlog.

“The NEWS says the California port situation is caused by a driver shortage,” reads a Facebook post published Oct. 13. “Not so fast: It is in part caused by a California Truck Ban which says all trucks must be 2011 or newer and a law called AB 5 which prohibits Owner Operators.”

The post racked up more than 13,000 shares within one day. Similar versions of the claim have also accumulated tens of thousands of interactions on Facebook, according to CrowdTangle, a social media insights tool.

But experts say trucking regulations aren’t to blame for the cargo backlog.

“To attribute the problems of today to this mandate is not accurate,” Miguel Jaller Martelo, co-director of the Sustainable Freight Research Program at the University of California-Davis, said in an email. “I would concentrate more on low wages, and new shipping trends that resulted from shifts in demand and consumption patterns during COVID.”

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user who shared the claim for comment.

Most trucks already compliant with engine rule

The regulations cited in the Facebook post are real. But experts say they aren’t contributing to supply chain delays in California.

Let’s start with the first rule mentioned in the post: the “California truck ban” that says “all trucks must be 2011 or newer.”

The Commercial Carrier Journal

The Commercial Carrier Journal, a news outlet that covers the trucking industry, reported in 2018 that the California Department of Motor Vehicles would soon start registering trucks only if they were in compliance with the state’s truck and bus regulation. That rule calls for the majority of trucks, including those that service ports, to have a 2010 or newer engine by 2023. Some trucks with older engines had to comply with the regulation by 2020.


“As of this year, 2021, only trucks with engines older than 2005 would have their registration denied,” she said in an email. “So any truck with a 2007 or newer engine is currently in compliance with the regulation.”

At the port of Los Angeles, for example, all trucks with access to the port in August had 2007 or newer engines. Caesar also noted the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have had additional, stricter requirements for older trucks for years.

“These rules are not new,” Matt Schrap, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association, which represents carriers at West Coast ports, told USA TODAY. “The only thing that’s close to new is the DMV registration ban, but that only includes vehicles that are not currently in compliance with the rule, which does not include any of the trucks that are in operation at the ports of L.A. and Long Beach.”

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Source: USA Today


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