The Texas Department of Transportation is encouraging motorists to do their part in keeping air across the state clean this summer by properly maintaining and carefully operating their vehicles.


The “Drive Clean Texas” campaign and its Live & Breath Texas Road Tour will make stops in cities throughout the state this summer, and offer motorists the chance to learn about emission-reduction strategies through vehicle-maintenance tips, games and interactive lessons.


“As Texans, we take tremendous pride in our state — its history, unique cultures and wide open spaces,” TxDOT Executive Director James Bass said in an emailed news release. “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.”


According to the Environmental Protection Agency, ozone pollution — which vehicles generate by burning gasoline and emitting carbon dioxide — has been on a statewide decline in recent years. But under air-quality standards laid out in the Clean Air Act, the Houston-Galveston area, Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and El Paso area do not meet federal clean-air standards. TxDOT reports that an additional six areas, including Austin, San Antonio, Victoria, Tyler-Longview, Beaumont-Port Arthur and Corpus Christi, are close to exceeding acceptable levels of air pollution.


TxDOT Paris District Public Information Officer Tim McAlavy said the summer vacation and travel season is accompanied by a significant increase in the number of vehicles on the road and the slow winds, sunny skies and hot temperatures can create favorable conditions for the formation of ground-level ozone.


“More people are on the road this time of year,” McAlavy said. “And summer weather in Texas is dominated by high-pressure systems and that changes the atmosphere.”


In its release, the transportation agency said motorists can reduce their vehicle’s emissions by ensuring that all tires are properly inflated, by tightly securing gas caps and not overfilling tanks, reducing one’s speed, and avoiding rapid acceleration and hard braking.


“This is a time of year when your air conditioner is going to be seeing heavy use,” McAlavy said. “That can certainly overwork your vehicle if it’s not in good shape.”


McAlavy said even after motorists have made sure their vehicles are in proper working order, they can still do more to lessen their emissions and environmental impact.


“Ride sharing or carpooling is a great thing if you can make it work,” McAlavy said. “If you carpool with two other people, you reduce the possible emissions footprint of three people, by two vehicles.”