It's time to cancel Drive Clean program
Published Tuesday November 11, 2014
The Ontario Drive Clean program was introduced in 1999 in an effort to reduce harmful exhaust emissions. Since the program's inception, the program has been a colossal failure.
Drive Clean emission tests are performed every two years on vehicles that are over seven years old. The cost for motorists is $30 per test.
The problem is that 95 per cent of the vehicles tested prior to 2013 passed with flying colours, as reported by the CBC. An Auditor General's Report (2012) confirmed that 75 per cent of lower vehicle emissions since 1999 have derived from better manufacture's standards for emissions-control equipment and federal requirements for cleaner fuel — not from Drive Clean.
Vehicles most likely to fail a Drive Clean test are those built in the 1980s and 1990s. Unbelievably, all vehicles built before 1987 are exempt from Drive Clean testing.
Further contributing to Drive Clean's ineffectiveness is the new computerized testing procedures, which measure onboard computers instead of actual tailpipe emissions on seven year-old (and older) vehicles. These new procedures resulted in an immediate 3 per cent bump in failure rates.
The increased failure rates are largely the result of system malfunctions, not increased vehicle emissions. When a vehicle fails an emissions test (for whatever reason), the car owner must pay for a second test, which frustrates car owners.
There is a double standard for Drive Clean — one for consumers, who must have vehicles seven years or older emissions tested every two years, the other for all new vehicles that change hands (which aren't the current model year.)
For these newer vehicles, an emissions test is completely unnecessary because an emission inspection is part of a safety inspection. Plus, if an emission problem exists, the engine light will come on.
For dealers, getting these newer vehicles to “ready mode” status to be tested requires a lot of time and resources. For instance, if a car battery goes dead or is disconnected, the car must be driven for up to two hours to achieve “ready mode” status. This burns fuel, contributes to traffic woes and pollutes the environment, which is ironic. Not a single new vehicle that gets to ready mode status ever fails!
There are 1,100 new car dealers in Ontario who are forced to emission test new vehicles every day. That's a lot of time, fuel and pollution, never mind the gridlock.
Plus, the AG's Report suggested that the government could face legal issues over the surplus revenue generated from Drive Clean. Drive Clean is supposed to be revenue neutral but it generates millions in fees for the government. In 2012, alone, Drive Clean earned $11 million in profits.
Earlier this year, the Government reduced the Drive Clean test fee by $5.. However, the government has not disclosed any proof that this amount will make the program revenue neutral and by what year.
The Trillium Automobile Dealers Association (TADA) was disappointed that Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne chose not to scrap the Drive Clean during this year’s provincial election campaign. We hope she will reconsider, or at least change the inspection circumstances so that all vehicles are tested only after seven years.
The TADA has long advocated that Drive Clean should be scrapped. If you would like to see Drive Clean scrapped, I encourage you to visit www.scrapdriveclean.ca and sign the online petition.
And write to your MPP, too.
Once again, the TADA is proud to support Prostate Cancer Canada. This year, our Association has donated a specially-modified 2015 Ford Mustang GT for the Rock the Road Raffle. For more information, visit www.prostatecancer.ca or www.tada.ca