Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the right to drive. It's the modern American's credo. But at least part of that credo - the right to drive - is about to undergo a major overhaul in Provo.

Provo has a serious carbon monoxide problem. According to Barbara Cole, an environmental scientist with the Bureau of Air Quality, 76 percent of the carbon monoxide in Provo comes from vehicles.To solve Provo's carbon monoxide problem, we're going to have to wean ourselves from our automobiles - when we use them and how.

Two Brigham Young University professors, Cory Teuscher and Scott Woodward, have started that painful process at the university by suggesting students be banned from bringing cars to school.

Here's a better idea: BYU's professors ought to lead the way in demonstrating automotive responsibility by agreeing to leave their cars at home and riding the bus to work.

There are approximately 3,000 faculty, staff and administration personnel at BYU. All of them are provided with free parking at the campus. BYU could follow the example set by Utah Valley Regional Medical Center and provide its employees with free unlimited UTA bus passes as an added employee benefit.

Faculty, staff and administrators generally have regular work hours - unlike students, whose schedules change from one semester to the next. They drive to the university, park their cars in lots and usually leave them there all day.

Some argue that professors have preferred status in the community compared to students and therefore should not be forced to alter their lifestyles by giving up their cars. Phooey.

That's like saying Geneva has preferred status in the community because it's the valley's third largest employer - BYU is first and the three school districts are second - and therefore should not be required to alter its operation in order to clean up the valley's air.

Let the professors lead the way. Then let's ask the students to follow. Which leads me to a final point. Some argue BYU has no right to tell students what to do.

BYU is a private institution. Attending the university is a privilege. Those who do agree to abide by the university's rules - such as living in BYU-approved off-campus housing, obtaining ecclesiastical endorsements prior to registering for classes, and adhering to certain dress standards.

Establishing a rule of conduct regarding use of vehicles shouldn't be too difficult.

(Brooke Adams, Orem, is Utah County bureau chief for the Deseret News.)