MEPs clamp down on noise pollution from cars

A draft law, voted in the European Parliament earlier this week, could see noise limits tightened on cars to protect public health.

The news that will have Halfords car-tinkerers rethinking that big bore exhaust purchase could also force manufacturers to label new products in a bid to inform potential customers of a car's noise levels.

Research has shown that persistent exposure to high levels of traffic noise can prove physically draining, disrupt organ functions and contribute to cardiovascular and other diseases. Studies by the European Environment Agency shows traffic exposes half of the EU's urban population to noise levels above 55 decibels (db).

The draft legislation proposes the limit for standard cars would be reduced to 68 db from 74 db currently. More powerful vehicles would be allowed a margin of 2 to 6 extra decibels.

However, MEPs maintained the limit for the most powerful heavy lorries (over 12 tonnes) at 81 db.

MEPs recognise that vehicle noise is also affected by the road surface, tyre noise and aerodynamics, all of which would have to be worked on by manufacturers in an attempt to reach the new noise limits.

The legislation also feels that there is a problem at the other end of the spectrum where hybrid and electric vehicles pose a safety issue because they hardly make a sound.

Car manufacturers will now have to fit an artificial noise to all quiet electric and hybrid vehicles, making British roads safer for blind and partially sighted people and other vulnerable road users.

Chief Executive of Guide Dogs, Richard Leaman said: "People with sight loss rely on hearing noise from cars and vans to identify a safe gap in the traffic to cross a road. This change will make our roads safer and help protect not only blind and partially sighted people, but pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users."

Do you think there is any need to limit the amount of noise a car makes? Have your say in the comments box below