By Johnny Jackson
Public awareness of Georgia's Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program is on the rise, according to a recent survey by Georgia's Clean Air Force (GCAF).
The survey is a part of GCAF's 13th annual emissions-testing-program study, which involved 300 random telephone and online surveys of vehicle owners in metro Atlanta.
The survey revealed that motorists' perception of the program's environmental benefits have increased significantly from 2008, in terms of what people know about air quality regulations and cleaner air.
GCAF officials found that about 95 percent of motorists are aware that keeping their vehicles properly maintained can increase the likelihood of passing the emissions test.
The best way to pass a vehicle emissions test is to keep the vehicle regularly maintained, said Randy Taylor, the owner of McDonough Tire, a certified emissions testing facility in McDonough.
Taylor repeats this advice as a basic courtesy to customers. Some, however, fail to keep regular maintenance on their vehicles. He said those people eventually fail their emissions test and are forced to go through a series of repairs --some unnecessary -- in order to get their vehicles up to a passing grade.
"A lot of people will drive their cars with the check engine light on and expect to pass an emissions test, but they won't," Taylor said.
Emissions tests often expose a vehicle in need of repair or proper maintenance, he said. He advises motorists to immediately have their vehicle checked when the check engine light appears on the dash.
Motorists should also get an emissions test, said Taylor, at least 30 days before they are due to renew their vehicle registration. He said some vehicles can be tested as far out as a year, which is the life span of each emissions test certificate.
"Through our dual-language web site, multi-lingual motorists' rights posters and Q & A brochures, we're committed to educating residents about how getting their vehicles' emissions tested annually is a vital step toward improving metro Atlanta's air quality," said Cherrise Boone, spokeswoman for the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
The GCAF has worked with Georgia's Environmental Protection Division since 1996, to reduce harmful vehicle emissions. According to GCAF officials, the program prevented an estimated 4,700 tons of pollutants from entering the air in 2009, and tons more from the 1.5 million, heavy-polluting vehicles that were repaired through the program.
"This year's study results reveal that we need to drive home the message of testing early," Boone said. "Doing so will help motorists identify necessary emissions-related repairs or maintenance issues, allowing ample time for repairs, prior to their vehicle registration renewal date."
To learn more, visit the GCAF web site at www.cleanairforce.com.