VANCOUVER, B.C. — Drivers of trucks that emit smoke are now subject to fines in B.C., thanks to a law that was announced this week by the provincial government.
The new regulations came about after the Ministry of Transportation and Highway’s AirCare On-Road (ACOR) program changed from an educational system to an enforcement system, with the introduction of fines to drivers of high-polluting diesel trucks.
“The exhaust from diesel vehicles contains particulate matter, which damages our health and our environment,” said Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon. “We want to reduce smog-forming emissions from heavy trucks across B.C., and that’s why we are launching a new system of issuing fines to high-polluters.”
Two mobile testing units will conduct spot checks on the road, as well as periodic enforcement at inspection stations across the province. The units are operated by certified ACOR inspectors with the transportation ministry’s Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) unit, which has the authority to stop commercial trucks that are emitting smoke. If the vehicle exceeds legislated emissions standards, the driver will be issued a $95 fine and a warning to obtain mechanical repairs within 14 days.
ACOR inspectors use the standard snap acceleration test to measure the opacity (how much light is blocked by the smoke) of diesel emissions. The test is accepted in North America as the standard test for identifying malfunctioning diesel engines. Higher opacity readings are connected with higher particulate matter emissions.
In other words: vehicles with dark smoke are more likely to be tested, because dark smoke is a sign the vehicle may be operating outside allowable limits. For an engine that was built pre-1991, the maximum allowable opacity is 55%; for a model built 1991 and later, the maximum allowable opacity is 40%.
Falcon noted that it’s in the best interest of truck drivers to keep their vehicles running clean. “A well-maintained diesel engine means cleaner air, lower fuel costs, lower maintenance, and a longer engine life.”
B.C. is concerned about emissions standards, not only to promote clean air, but also to prevent secondary consequences and reap the benefits, according to the B.C. environment minister. “Clean technologies could save our health-care system up to $85 million a year and alleviate the human suffering that cost represents,” said Barry Penner. “B.C. is already the first province in Canada to make emissions reduction technology mandatory in older commercial transport diesel vehicles.”
The province introduced a new hotline, which will allow B.C. citizens to report an excessively smoking truck: 888-775-8785. For more information, visit www.th.gov.bc.ca/ACOR/.
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