Media release: Doctors join AAA’s call for real world testing of cars

Doctors for the Environment Australia have welcomed the Australian Automobile Association’s (AAA) call for the introduction of a real world testing of cars, as the initiative would save thousands of lives.

DEA, a medical group supported by a Nobel laureate, recipients of the Australia of the Year award and other eminent health experts, says today’s release of AAA’s report, showing that real world tests of vehicles produced up to seven times the legal limit of some noxious emissions and 11 out of 12 diesel cars tested exceeded legal limits for noxious emissions, should be a wake up call to the Australian Government and to consumers.

DEA spokesperson, Dr Graeme McLeay says, “The Federal Government must urgently address worsening air pollution, particularly in urban areas, near to schools and busy roads.

“Transport emissions have been rising faster than any sector, and contribute to the leading causes of death in Australia.

“An estimated 3,000 deaths are attributable to air pollution in Australia each year at a health cost of a staggering $11-24 billion per year.”

Air pollution can lead to heart disease, stroke, chronic lung disease, lung cancer, dementia and asthma. Children exposed to such pollution have higher rates of asthma and school absence and show evidence of reduced lung function which persists into adulthood. Women exposed to greater levels of traffic pollution are more likely to have premature babies.

Diesel emissions, classified as a Class 1 carcinogen (directly linked to cancer), are of significant concern.

Also the Government’s proposed new energy policy of a 26% reduction in greenhouse emissions from electricity generation leaves transport and agriculture to do all the heavy lifting on meeting our obligation to the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions.

DEA urges the Australian Government to:

  • Adopt real world driving condition emission tests of all new vehicles as recommended in the AAA report.
  • Mandate vehicle emission standards which are equivalent to standards in comparable economies such as Europe or California. Currently Australia’s vehicle emission and fuel standards are near the bottom of the OECD.
  • Ensure stamp duty on new cars reflects both pollution potential, and, as happens in the ACT, emissions of CO2 per kilometer, rather than the price of the vehicle.
  • Discourage the uptake of diesel cars in light of the health burden they impose by imposition of a pollution tax or other disincentive.
  • Reduce the high sulphur content in petrol as it is preventing the adoption of less polluting, more efficient, vehicles and sulphur dioxide contributes significantly to poor air quality.
  • Avoid much of the congestion and pollution in our cities by providing good, efficient public transport, preferably electrified, and prioritising pedestrian access and cycling lanes.

In the wake of the Volkswagen scandal, the AAA tested 30 vehicles to quantify the difference between their results in standard laboratory testing, and the actual emissions they produce in the real world. To view the report, visit


Dr Graeme McLeay, 0429 416 172



DEA’s submission to the Better Fuel for Cleaner Air Discussion Paper

AAA report

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