Mo­tor­ing and Pol­lu­tion

A LETHAL COM­BI­NA­TION

Driven - - Road Safety - Re­port by ASHREF IS­MAIL

CARS AND POL­LU­TION GO HAND IN HAND. GLOB­ALLY, THE MIL­LIONS OF VE­HI­CLES OF ALL TYPES COM­BINED WITH THE FAC­TO­RIES AND MA­CHIN­ERY THAT PRO­DUCE THEM, AC­COUNT FOR BE­ING AMONG THE TOP THREE GLOBAL POL­LU­TANTS. WHILE THE MO­TOR IN­DUS­TRY HAS BEEN HARD AT WORK RE­DUC­ING HARM­FUL POL­LU­TION THROUGH A STRAT­EGY OF ELEC­TRI­FI­CA­TION AND HYBRIDISATION, IT WILL STILL TAKE A WHILE BE­FORE OUR GRAND­CHIL­DREN CAN BOAST ABOUT A POL­LU­TION-FREE MO­TOR­ING EX­PE­RI­ENCE.

One of the most sig­nif­i­cant strides in re­duc­ing mo­tor­ing pol­lu­tion in the last cen­tury has been the world­wide switch from leaded to un­leaded fuel. How­ever, it must be re­mem­bered that un­leaded fuel, too is not en­tirely clean. Be­sides, what­ever gains the in­dus­try may have made in re­duc­ing nox­ious pol­lu­tion, have been negated by the sheer in­crease in ve­hi­cle vol­umes to­day com­pared to two decades ago.

It is es­ti­mated that mo­tor ve­hi­cles are re­spon­si­ble for more than 50% of car­bon monox­ide con­tam­i­na­tion of the air, which is also a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to global warm­ing. Mo­tor ve­hi­cles also con­trib­ute around 30% of ni­trous ox­ide and other lethal com­pounds that pol­lute the environment.

Adding to the prob­lem, not all scrap metal from re­dun­dant ve­hi­cles will be re­cy­cled, while most plas­tics, foam, and rub­ber are not biodegrad­able. Not to men­tion how un­sightly scrap yards can be, and how they con­trib­ute to the de­cay of the nat­u­ral environment. Leak­ing oil con­trib­utes sig­nif­i­cantly to the pol­lu­tion of our ground­wa­ter, while rub­ber from dis­carded tyres can of­ten not be re­cy­cled suf­fi­ciently.

Sadly, both de­vel­oped and de­vel­op­ing coun­tries are re­spon­si­ble for the pol­lu­tion prob­lem, with in­dus­trial coun­tries be­ing the big­gest cul­prits. While progress to re­solve some of th­ese is­sues has been en­cour­ag­ing in de­vel­oped coun­tries, high traf­fic vol­umes in th­ese na­tions still have a mas­sive im­pact on en­vi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion, while poor con­di­tions and old tech­nol­ogy in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries add to the harm­ful sit­u­a­tion.

What about noise pol­lu­tion? Un­reg­u­lated and poor en­force­ment has seen un­ac­cept­able noise lev­els from noisy cars, and heavy trucks and mo­tor­cy­cles, with con­tin­ued ex­po­sure, can lead to se­vere hear­ing dif­fi­cul­ties.

What can the or­di­nary mo­torist do to al­le­vi­ate the prob­lem of pol­lu­tion? Travel less. Eas­ier said than done? Yes, it can be done. Plan your trav­els care­fully, com­bin­ing some trips and if pos­si­ble, take a walk or cy­cle where it is safe.

• Make sure that your ve­hi­cle is ser­viced

reg­u­larly us­ing qual­ity lu­bri­cants and dili­gently fol­low­ing the man­u­fac­turer’s ser­vice schedules

• When buy­ing a new car, choose one that is as fuel-ef­fi­cient as pos­si­ble. Many man­u­fac­tur­ers dis­play th­ese fig­ures as part of a car’s over­all per­for­mance numbers and the lower the emis­sion fig­ure, the bet­ter.

• Avoid idling un­nec­es­sar­ily. Com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles are espe­cially guilty of this. Keep­ing the truck, bus or bakkie idling wait­ing to warm up the en­gine or while wait­ing to load or off-load freight and pas­sen­gers is not only waste­ful and leads to in­creased fuel us­age, but is also harm­ful to the environment.

• Drive within the speed limit and re­duce op­er­a­tional costs and un­nec­es­sary wear and tear. It is of­ten said, it is not just the type of car, but a driver’s driv­ing style that can de­ter­mine the safety and ef­fi­cient use of a ve­hi­cle, which can lead to low­ered stress lev­els, greater law com­pli­ance, less trauma and re­duced costs, which is a win-win sit­u­a­tion for all.

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