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New regulation means times up for Smoky Vehicles

13 February 2001 Media Statement

Tough new regulation means times up for Smoky Vehicles

Owners of vehicles that belch excessive fumes are the target of a new regulation, known as the 10 second rule, to come into effect in March.

From then vehicles will not be allowed to emit a continuous stream of clearly visible smoke or vapour for 10 seconds or more.

Transport Minister Mark Gosche said the rule would allow Police to more easily identify and prosecute owners of vehicles that produce excessive smoke.

"Time's up for smoky vehicles. The quality of air in our cities must be improved and this is one way everyone can try to address pollution and stop vehicles belching excessive amounts of smoke and fumes into our environment."

A recent report found air quality in Auckland and Christchurch above national air quality guidelines.

“The old regulations were difficult for the Police to enforce because of practical difficulties using a colour chart or assessing smoke density from the roadside or a Police vehicle. The amended regulation will make it much simpler for Police to identify and prosecute owners of excessively smoky vehicles.”

While the change takes effect on 1 March there will be an initial six-month introductory period when the Police will focus on educating motorists on the causes and effects of smoky vehicle, rather than enforcement.

“This is fair and gives everyone the chance to get their car in order before prosecutions start. After that initial six months there will really be no excuse for continuing to use a smoky vehicle.”

The 10 second rule is based on a similar test that has been used successfully in New South Wales for 20 years. It allows for the occasional puff of smoke under short-term acceleration or gear changes while identifying engines in need of maintenance, repair or tuning, Mr Gosche said.

"Properly maintained and tuned petrol engines should not produce any visible smoke," said Mr Gosche.

"Most modern vehicles only produce smoke when they are worn, poorly maintained or tuned, or in need of repair. "
Early diesel engines were designed to produce visible, but not excessive, smoke as part of normal operating conditions, with occasional heavier bursts when changing gear, acceleration or under load. Newer diesel engines are built in accordance with more stringent emissions standards and should not produce any tailpipe smoke except for those very short periods when changing gear under load or acceleration.

Mr Gosche said the public response to an Auckland Regional Council campaign last year, when more than 23,000 polluting vehicles were reported, confirmed that there was a high level of public concern about vehicle emissions.

"We are committed to addressing the environmental impacts of road transport and to improving the quality of air in our cities. This measure is one of a series of transport policies, aimed at the environment, that we will be implementing over the next two years.”

The new regulation comes into force on 1 March, 2001. For the following six months motorists will be issued a warning and given information on how to address their vehicle's emmission problems. After that, motorists with excessively smoky vehicles will be liable for a $150 fine.


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