California uses a “dirty truck detector”

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California is deploying a portable emissions detector in areas with heavy truck traffic to notify drivers and operators of a new smog control program that begins Jan. 1.

The heavy-duty inspection and maintenance program is being phased in starting next year by the California Air Resources Board, which calls it “a breakthrough smog check program” to help ensure the million heavy trucks that operate there “run cleanly for the life of the vehicle. »

In a series of enforcement events, CARB deployed its Portable Emissions Acquisition System (PEAQ) which filters out high emissions as heavy trucks pass underneath.

High-emission vehicles are flagged for full inspections, including a smoke test and emission control equipment check to determine if repairs are needed. Quotations may be issued during screenings.

CARB unveiled what it called the “Dirty Truck Detector” Aug. 23 near the Port of Los Angeles during a five-hour event attended by CARB Board Member Gideon Kracov. as well as air pollution specialists and technicians from CARB.

More than 1,200 trucks were checked as part of the CARB submission to alert truck owners and operators of the new “smog check” requirements for heavy-duty vehicles and the timeline for implementation.

The last check was carried out for three hours on November 1 at the Calexico border crossing on the American side (a busy truck route for trade with Mexico).

“CARB has several unattended PEAQ systems deployed across the state as well as mobile PEAQ units, like the one used at Calexico, for use in specific areas. The cost savings from public health benefits (deaths, hospitalizations, etc., from air quality-induced illnesses) far outweigh the cost of monitoring systems,” said Lynda Lambert, spokesperson for the CARB, at Transport Topics.

A truck is inspected in Oakland. (CARB)

In Oakland, of 281 trucks checked on October 25, 15 were identified as emitting more and selected for a full inspection.

“This [Oakland event] demonstrates the value of using a screening tool like PEAQS so that only the highest emitting vehicles are selected for inspection,” said Lambert.

Another pop-up inspection took place Oct. 18 in San Diego at a California Highway Patrol facility at the commercial border crossing at Otay Mesa.

“While CARB does not disclose information about future enforcement events, the use of PEAQs and roadside checks is a key part of complying with California air quality regulations. PEAQs work in conjunction with the Smog Monitoring Program to identify vehicles that have high emissions between periodic tests,” Lambert said.

The heavy-duty inspection and maintenance program will apply to all heavy-duty trucks, buses and farm equipment with a gross vehicle weight rating greater than 14,000 pounds traveling in the state, whether or not they are registered in California.

The second phase begins in mid-2023 requiring all heavy trucks to register with CARB and obtain a certificate of compliance to operate in the state.

During the final phase of 2024, heavy truck registration in California will require proof of emissions compliance with the program and emissions inspections must be performed twice a year for vehicles equipped with On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) systems ), rising to four times a year. 2027.

CARB estimates that 75% to 80% of all heavy trucks will be equipped with OBD equipment with telematics technology to send data automatically at the start of the program.

Older heavy vehicles without an OBD system will continue the current opacity test requirements with an additional visual test component, twice a year.

Lambert pointed out that heavy-duty vehicle owners will be able to perform the required program test and provide emission system inspection information remotely “without having to travel to designated test locations.”

She said: “The test can be done easily using your truck’s OBD connector at home or at the workplace, as long as it is done by a CARB-accredited tester using a CARB-certified playback device. The program allows trucks to operate at maximum efficiency, which saves fuel and other costs. »