Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Winter 2013, page 3

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Campaign to stop misuse of horn-honking

In an effort to stop the detrimental misuse of horn-honking for mere conveniences like remote door-locking confirmation, Jeanine Botta launched www.greencarintegrity.org (please see Ms. Botta's article on page 8, Fall 2012 NOISE-Letter). The Right to Quiet Society has joined her effort and wrote a letter to nine of the major car manufacturers to date, whose addresses are posted on greencarintegrity.org, along with sample letters and more information on this issue. It now appears that at least some manufacturers are considering a change from the very noisy honking to a much lower electronic chirp. We urge everyone interested in this matter, to also write a short letter, expressing concern and, indeed, disgust about that unnecessary noise, and request that manufacturers refrain from installing such redundant features in their products. Please read our letter below:

Re: Use of horn sound for audible confirmation
Dear Sir/Madam,

Allow me to raise an issue that causes innumerable people considerable unhealthy stress and could easily be avoided: the use of a horn sound for audible lock and security confirmation, which contributes to unhealthy noise pollution in urban, residential and other settings throughout North America. With genuine commitment to sustainability and environmental quality, it is surprising that this audible confirmation of vehicle security was ever implemented. Regrettably, even electric and hybrid vehicles, considered to be the latest in "green" vehicle technology, are no exception. Use of a horn sound to confirm that a car is locked inflicts unnecessary noise on Mercedes Benz drivers/users, as well as anyone else within ear-shot, including children, pets, and wildlife.

Quite simply, a manufacturer should not provide the means to make this unnecessary noise. Corporations have a responsibility as "good corporate citizens" to contribute to the prevention and abatement of unhealthy, totally unnecessary noise. The soundscape - the acoustic aspect of the environment - is an integral, indispensable component of the environment, which deserves and requires the same care and protection as the air, water and soil. To be truly "green", one must consider the entire environment, including the soundscape. A compromised soundscape harms human health, and I am certain that it wasn’t Mercedes Benz's intention to cause harm.

Horn-honking as a confirmation sound is a grave misuse of an audio signal which, by law, is to be used exclusively in emergency situations. Modern technology can provide effective non-polluting signals, which do not impose undesired, unnecessary noise on others. Noise is not a mere nuisance. It has been found to be harmful to the health and well being of humans and other creatures in many studies. Unfortunately, this is often ignored, especially by influential decision-makers. I respectfully appeal to you to give this matter serious thought and to use your position at Mercedes Benz to bring about positive change by proactively protecting the already overburdened soundscape.

Replacing the horn sound as audible confirmation with a low electronic sound or using visual confirmation would reduce detrimental community noise and underscore Mercedes Benz's commitment to environmental sustainability. I take the liberty to allude to the European Union, where these audio-devices are not installed, which makes good economical and environmental sense; a great example to follow. Drivers must have good enough vision to see visual signals, making this type of intrusive audible signals redundant.

I look forward to your - hopefully - favourable reply.
Yours truly,

Hans Schmid

High cost of noise

 In November of 1995 Glenn Bohn wrote an article in the Vancouver Sun headlined 'Real' cost of cars bared. It was about "a study by the B.C. government to start counting the hidden environmental costs of the car before building more roads." Mr. Bohn concluded his article as follows:

Traffic noise a hidden but loud cost

Traffic noise along B.C.'s busiest highways and city streets is just one of the costs that a new government report tries to measure. "Noise is a fact that most analyses ignore," says principal author Peter Bein. "It's everywhere and with us every minute." The study cites Scandinavian studies about the costs of traffic noise. It puts a currency value on things such as the higher cost of sound-dampening windows, productivity losses by workers who don't get enough sleep, depressed property values along highways and the health bills from noise-related stress. The B.C. study estimates 400,000 British Columbians suffer from traffic noise levels above 50 decibels. The bottom line: traffic noise costs $720 million each year in B.C.

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