NEW JERSEY SET TO UNVEIL PROGRAM FOR ROADSIDE TRUCK EMISSION TESTS

NEW JERSEY SET TO UNVEIL PROGRAM FOR ROADSIDE TRUCK EMISSION TESTS

Truckers on New Jersey roads, already subject to random roadside drug and alcohol tests, could be stopped for exhaust emissions tests if state lawmakers approve a new anti-pollution program.

Officials of the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Environmental Protection and Energy are slated to announce today a program that would test 100,000 diesel trucks a year and fine them up to $500 if they do not comply with new emissions standards.The program would target obviously polluting vehicles - such as those spewing dark clouds of diesel smoke out of exhaust pipes, said Michael Santaniello, deputy director of the DMV. But others would be stopped as well and given either snap acceleration or rolling emissions tests at up to 10 locations, he said.

The controversial tests have met with strong trucker opposition in California, one of the only other states to conduct them. Two groups, including the California Trucking Association, have sued to stop the state

from continuing the snap acceleration tests, contending they are inaccurate. The suits are under appeal, the CTA said.

If approved by the New Jersey Legislature, new standards would be set for particulate emissions in diesel trucks over 18,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. Currently, new truck engines must meet emissions standards at the factory, but not afterwards, Mr. Santaniello said.

The program, which officials hope will be in place by January 1995, would target both in and out-of-state truckers, he said.

"The emissions coming from diesel trucks are a serious health hazard and a primary thing we get residential complaints on," he said. "The focus is on improving air quality, but we are also including the ability to mitigate the penalty."

As proposed, the program would fine truckers who fail the test $500 for the first offense. But the penalty would be reduced to $300 if the truck company submits proof that the truck was repaired in 45 days.

Samuel L. Cunninghame, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, said his group supports the program.

"We've been party to all the plans," he said. "We feel as long as the

meters are reliable and objective, we're all in favor of it."

Mr. Santaniello said he anticipated the test would take a maximum of five minutes, so as not to interfere with trucker schedules.

The emissions program is slated to coincide with the enactment of stricter emissions inspection standards for cars under the 1990 Clean Air Act revisions, said Katie Watson, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey Division of Motor Vehicles.