Voluntary surveys play a key role in California’s success toward meeting vehicle emissions reduction standards
A simulated roadside vehicle emissions survey may be coming to a street near you. At first glance, they might look like DUI checkpoints, but they have a much different purpose and there are no consequences if you decline.
Quick and informative, the roadside surveys are very similar to Smog Check inspections performed at licensed Smog Check stations, except they don’t cost anything. The program is one of the most effective ways of measuring the success of California’s Smog Check Program, which is administered by the Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR).
Launched in 1984, Smog Check is a vehicle inspection and maintenance program that identifies vehicles with excess emissions so they can be properly repaired or retired. It has greatly reduced air pollution created by the millions of cars in California and become a model for other states and countries.
The data collected from roadside surveys provides an overview of vehicles’ emissions to help ensure the state is meeting federal standards for reducing ozone-forming pollution generated by cars and trucks. The data are compared to results of vehicles of the same make, model, and year tested at licensed Smog Check stations.
Where are the surveys done?
The surveys are performed on thousands of vehicles in more than 250 cities across California each year in areas with the worst air quality, including the Central Valley, San Francisco Bay Area, greater Los Angeles, Inland Empire, and San Diego. BAR randomly selects ZIP codes in these areas and then identifies suitable sites where surveys can be safely conducted.
How are the roadside surveys done?
A California Highway Patrol officer is present during these roadside surveys to monitor traffic and to safely direct vehicles into the survey lane. The survey takes less than 10 minutes and is always voluntary. Specially trained BAR technicians perform the surveys using portable inspection equipment. The information is only used for program evaluation to continually improve California’s Smog Check efforts. There are no repair requirements or consequences for vehicles that produce excess emissions during the survey, and the results do not affect the vehicle’s Smog Check record. Consumers who participate receive a report detailing the results.
Does it replace my required Smog Check inspection?
No, the survey results can’t be substituted for an official Smog Check inspection. However, the report does provide important information about the vehicle for you. BAR staff also will point out any mechanical issues they observe while conducting the survey.
To learn about more ways you can help reduce air pollution, visit www.arb.ca.gov. For more information on BAR’s programs, including the Roadside Inspection Program, visit www.bar.ca.gov. You can also download a brochure explaining California’s Smog Check Program at www.bar.ca.gov/pdf/Smog_Check_Brochure.pdf.