by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition
The headline in The Guardian reads “Belgian city puts brakes on deafening drivers by enforcing noise limits,” but I think the brakes are being put on the vehicles. In any event, Ghent, in the Flemish region of Belgium, was having a problem with vehicle noise, and it turned out that only a few vehicles were causing most of the problem.
As the article states:
The Flemish city introduced a new regulation last month allowing police to impound vehicles whose drivers were causing excessive noise, either by playing loud music – dubbed boom cars – aggressive driving, or tampering with engines and exhaust pipes to make their vehicles noisier. Under the new regulation, drivers who breach noise limits will have their vehicle impounded for at least 72 hours and must bear the cost of towing and storage. The law took effect last month and expires at the end of the year when its effectiveness will be evaluated.
So far, citizens are satisfied with the results.
The Dutch city of Rotterdam is facing similar problems, compounded by laws that require police to prove the noise violation by testing the car at a special site.
Much problematic vehicle noise is caused by driving patterns, e.g., gunning the engine or rapid acceleration from a stop, or by exhaust modifications that can be switched on or off. This makes it hard for the police to catch the offenders.
Dutch police are reviewing changes to their laws that would allow easier enforcement of vehicle noise laws.
When people live close together, as in cities, they must modulate their behaviors so as not to cause problems for their neighbors. We hope the Belgian and Dutch efforts are successful, and that these efforts can migrate across the Atlantic to our side of the ocean.