(KWES) - Texans have many reasons to be proud of the Lone Star state, but for nine different regions around the state, air quality is not one of them.
The Texas Department of Transportation's Drive Clean Texas campaign wants to change that by encouraging motorists to take pride in keeping the air clean.
During the hottest time of year, slow wind speeds and hot, sunny days create conditions where harmful ground-level ozone can form — aided by vehicle tailpipe emissions.
"As Texans, we take tremendous pride in our state — its history, unique cultures and wide open spaces," said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. "Some might say we live and breathe Texas. Drive Clean Texas is asking drivers to protect the air we value so much by doing their part to reduce the harmful vehicle emissions that are released into our beautiful Texas skies."
While ozone pollution decreased statewide by 29 percent from 2000 to 2014, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, summertime ozone levels remain a concern with vehicle emissions making up half of all air pollution in some areas of the state.
Drive Clean Texas asks drivers to help protect the state's air quality by following a few simple tips:
- Keep vehicles well-maintained and inflate tires to recommended air pressure levels
- Properly fuel vehicles by tightly sealing the gas cap
- Stop at the click when fueling your vehicle. Overfilling the tank releases harmful fumes into the air
- Drive smart by obeying speed limits
- Avoid idling the vehicle for extended periods of time
- Avoid aggressive driving with rapid starts and stops
Under standards set in the Clean Air Act, three areas in Texas — Houston/Galveston, Dallas/Fort Worth and El Paso — do not meet federal clean air standards, and six additional areas — Austin, San Antonio, Victoria, Tyler/Longview, Beaumont/Port Arthur and Corpus Christi — are at risk of exceeding healthy levels of air pollutants.
Contaminated air does not just stay in these areas, however, it travels across the state, so it's important for all motorists to take steps to reduce vehicle emissions, especially in the hot summer months.
The campaign's statewide Live & Breath Texas Road Tour will make stops in Texas cities throughout the summer, and features the Drive Clean Texas Road Trip game, a fun, interactive way to learn about reducing harmful vehicle emissions.
To learn more about "Drive Clean Texas," visit drivecleantexas.org.