Reducing air pollution by targeting the most egregious emitters

By Bill Holloway

New infrared cameras can identify various tailpipe emissions in real time from vehicles passing at highway speeds. While there are other remote sensing technologies that allow the infrared analysis of emissions from cars on the road, these normally require lower speeds, a single lane, or other limiting factors. Researchers at the Universidad Carlos III in Madrid developed the new technology. By analyzing the ratios of different pollutants, it can also distinguish between high-emitting vehicles that are functioning normally—i.e., vehicles that are burning more fuel to carry heavier loads or more passengers—from those that have mechanical problems that need to be dealt with. As planners experiment with different speed limits, traffic light timing, and other roadway characteristics, these new cameras could help to better assess the emissions impacts of the changes. For more see Henry Grabar’s article in Atlantic Cities.

Bill Holloway is a Transportation Policy Analyst at SSTI.