By ClickGreen.org.uk staff, Friday, 09 Dec. 2011
European roads will be 25% quieter within two years. The European Commission has today proposed to reduce the noise pollution produced by cars, vans, buses, coaches, light and heavy trucks by a quarter. Noise limit values would be lowered in two steps of each 2 decibels (dB) for passenger cars, vans, buses and coaches. For trucks the reduction would be 1dB in the first step and 2dB in the second step. The first step is to apply two years after the publication of the text, once approved by the EP and Member States, and the second step is foreseen three years thereafter. Altogether, these measures will reduce vehicle noise nuisance by around a quarter.
In addition, the Commission intends to introduce a new and more reliable test method to measure sound emissions. Moreover, it is proposed that electric and hybrid electric vehicles can be fitted optionally with sound generating devices, which would make these cars safer. Noise emission limits have not changed since 1996 despite in-creasing traffic. The World Health Organisation concluded that traffic-related noise may account for 1 million healthy years of life lost per year in Western Europe. Hence, reduction of traffic noise is essential to improve the health and quality of life of Europe's citizens.
Today’s proposal will significantly reduce the levels of environmental noise and consequently the number of people affected by it. Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship said: "Noise emissions due to road traffic, from which our citizens are suffering, will be significantly reduced. Our proposal will lead to quieter motor vehicles on our roads and a healthier environment. Our proposal will also make international rules
for industry clearer, so it will be easier for European manufacturers to sell cars outside the EU.”
The proposal will ensure that the noise levels of new vehicles will be measured by a new and more reliable test method. To this end, so-called additional sound emission provisions (ASEP) will be included. These are preventive requirements, which will ensure that the sound emissions of a vehicle under street-driving conditions will not differ significantly from what can be expected from the type-approval test-result for this specific vehicle. So-called 'Approaching Vehicle Audible Systems' requirements shall ensure that only adequate sound-generating devices are used, which will also lead to a harmonisation of the applied technology. The fitting as such would remain an option for the vehicle manufacturer. This will increase road safety and undoubtedly help avoiding road-accident injuries.
Having the same basic rules throughout the EU makes it easier to buy, sell and use vehicles in any Member State – and ensures equal health, safety and environmental standards across the EU. With this proposal the current EU rules applicable to noise emissions from vehicles will be updated and further aligned with internationally recognised UN standards. This should enable to improve market access for European car manufacturers in those third countries, which are contracting parties to the UNECE Agreement of 1958 and, thus, boost the competitiveness of the European industry.
The proposal of the European Commission is now to be submitted to the European co-legislators, the European Parliament and to the Council.