Right to Quiet Society Noiseletter
Winter 2015, page 6

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"Silence the Horns" project needs your letters

By Jeanine Botta

Since my update in the Fall 2013 newsletter, there is some news related to the effort to bring about elimination of horn ­based lock alert and related technologies – some positive, and some disappointing. In 2014, we learned that Honda, Hyundai, and Nissan have been transitioning many of their models from the horn sound to use of the electron­ic tone, and silent locking with flashing lights is another option. It is possible that the electronic tone will eventually be featured in all models.

Many people consider silent locking the gold standard, but automakers are unlikely to stop featuring some sort of sound. Having no sound at all would drive some consum­ers to obtain a horn­ based alert in the aftermarkets. The average consumer tends to accept the sound mode that comes factory­ installed with a car.

There is a positive development from Canada. Early in 2014, the Québec Minister of Transport requested that the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec add a sec­tion to their web site addressing horn­ based lock alert technology. The section is titled Sound Warning Devices
The post was in response to a written request from a resident of Québec. Six months earlier, I had spoken with the letter writer, who believed that writing letters would be a waste of time. The Quebec government does not set transportation policies, but its acknowledging the issue and willingness to advocate for awareness and consideration is commendable.

In January of 2014 I began collaborating with Cullen Ruff, a physician and professor of medicine living in Virginia, who wanted to create a public service announcement (PSA). Initiating a focussed project called Silence the Horns, we produced the PSA , launched it on YouTube at here and created Silence the horns website

which serves as a clearing house for letter writing efforts.

Cullen and I met with a member of Congress in March of 2014 to discuss the project. Noting that lobbying for con­gressional support would be unrealistic at that time, the congressman added that if a member of a congressional committee had not received complaints from his or her constituents, he or she would be unlikely to respond to requests to review our issue. After this, Cullen met with a chief of staff from another congressional office. The legis­lator emphasised that although committee positions are national, individual members respond mostly to their own constituents’ concerns. We decided not to pursue a legis­lative approach at the time. We believe that the direct approach with the auto industry is best, and continue to focus on communication with industry stakeholders, regulatory agencies, and consumer advocacy groups.

We strongly encourage anyone who has not done so to visit Silence the horns website and write to suggested let­ter recipients, including those in Canada and those in the US.

This page is kept current and may have more focussed writing campaigns listed toward the top. If you have written already, please check the site for updates, and write to info@silencethehorns.org if you have any questions or want to view sample letters on a private web page.

Even as some automakers are moving away from horn use for lock alert, others are adopting use of apps that "honk your horn from your smartphone" even though silent locating technology is available. This is a critical time, and we need to build on the momentum created by auto­makers that have moved away from horn use. It is not a given that the rest will follow their lead, especially without public feedback. The Silence the Horns project will re­main active through June of this year with the goal of locating regulatory and consumer advocacy groups willing to share owner­ship of this issue.

Senior suing Fort Saskatchewan over loud motorcycles

By Tony Blais (excerpts)

A Fort Saskatchewan senior has had it with illegally loud motorcycles in his community. Richard Charles Jones, 70, recently filed an $850,000 lawsuit against the City of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, and other defendants in which he alleges his rights have been infringed for 18 years due to the noise nuisance caused. In fact, the retired commercial bush pilot not only wants financial compensation, but he would like to see a judge place the City of Fort Saskatch­ewan under the management of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs "until such time they be replaced by qualified per­sonnel." According to a statement of claim filed in Edmonton's Court of Queen's Bench on Sept. 22, Jones alleges the City of Fort Saskatchewan has unconstitutionally granted a parade permit to a local motorcycle club

and failed to enforce the law to control traffic noise caused by motor vehicles with illegal, altered muffler systems. The dis­abled grandfather also alleges the noise nuisance has caused him mental distress and infringed upon his right to the peaceful enjoyment of his home. Statements of defence have not yet been filed.
In February, Jones appeared before Fort Saskatchewan's city council to complain about the problem of vehicle noise pollution, especially relating to motorcycles, and asked the councillors to send a message to bikers. "Take their babies away and they'll cry like babies," he told council during his presentation.

With files from QMI Agency

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