Photo credit: Nicholas Espinosa

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

In the 1980s and 1990s, my daughter and her family and other close relatives lived in the Los Angeles area and nearby communities. I travelled three to four times a year to visit my family. Wanting to get along on my own and visit some of the sites on the West coast, I sought out bus routes I could use. These were far and few between and bus waits were long, so as someone who did not drive I had to depend on a relative to get around. I soon learned how much the automobile dominated transportation in Los Angeles and its neighboring counties.

It is not surprising to read Rachel Bluth’s article in the L.A. Times that found that California cities are dominated by automobile din that brings about “lost sleep, jangled nerves, panicked pets.” That noise pollution is a health problem is supported by many scientific studies. Sadly, busy highways are not just used for travel, but also are used for high-speed races with cars “that have been illegally modified to make even more noise.” We learn that California legislators have passed legislation in 2022 to use noise cameras to identify cars that are unusually loud, and additional legislation is attempting to deal with cars that are illegally modified. California is in line with other states that have introduced similar legislation.

Whether the legislation being passed will indeed lessen the automobile noise in California remains to be seen. This is true in other U.S. states and cities. We need to call on legislators to produce data to demonstrate whether the laws in place are being adequately enforced. Passing laws is one thing, enforcing them is another. And in the end, it is the enforcement that reduces noise pollution.

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