From: Associated Press
Published August 15, 2005 12:00 AM

Los Angeles Area Plans To Use Sensors, Cameras To Record Cars' Pollution Emissions

LOS ANGELES — Sensors and video cameras on Southern California freeways could begin recording pollutants spewing from tailpipes by early next year as part of a program to reduce pollution levels in the smoggiest region of the United States.


The program, perhaps the largest of its kind, would measure vehicles entering freeways in Los Angeles and several surrounding counties, The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.


Regulators are expected to formally approve the plan next month, the newspaper said.


The sensors measure pollutants as vehicles accelerate and the cameras snap an image of the license plates.


Smog regulators can't force drivers to fix or discard dirty cars, but they can offer incentives to encourage them to do it.


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Owners of smoky clunkers would receive letters informing them that the government would help pay to fix or scrap the vehicles. Between 10,000 to 20,000 of the dirtiest vehicles would be spotted, according to the South Coast Air Quality Management District.


The state's smog-check program tests about 10 million vehicles every year, keeping some of the dirtiest off the road. Still, officials say sometimes inspectors pass cars they shouldn't. Also, vehicles built before 1976 and those newer than six years old are exempt from the checks.


"You can't meet our air quality goals without addressing this problem," said Victor Weisser, chairman of California's Inspection and Maintenance Review Committee, which oversees a separate program that requires vehicles to be smog-checked.


"We have made great strides with cleaner gasoline and new engines, but you can't make bigger reductions until you get some of these cars off the road," he added. "And unless we do something, these cars from the 1980s are going to be on the road a long time."


Air regulators say using sensors and cameras would encourage more people to send their vehicles to the junk yard -- by far cheaper at cleaning the region's air than imposing additional controls on power plants and refineries.


Source: Associated Press


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