Fabian Demicoli

Commission wants to drive down vehicle noise levels

 Noise limits would be lowered in stages – The European Commission will later this month publish a long-awaited proposal to impose stricter limits on noise from cars and lorries. But the plans are likely to face opposition from Germany and its powerful automotive industry.

 

The Commission plans to lower the current limit of 74 decibels for most passenger cars in two stages, according to a draft seen by European Voice. The limit would be lowered to 70 decibels two years after the new rules come into force, followed by a drop to 68 decibels after five years.

The limits would vary based on the type of vehicle. Limits for the heaviest lorries would be lowered to 80 decibels after two years and 78 decibels after five years. The Commission has decided not to set minimum noise levels despite concerns about near-silent electric vehicles and the dangers that they could pose to pedestrians.

The vehicle noise limits, first set in 1970, were last revised in 1996. But levels have not declined by the amount envisaged. This is largely because the old assessment method did not take into account driving behaviour and traffic conditions, a Commission official said.

Developing calculation methods has been the job of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), which came up with an improved version in 2005. The Commission has required the automotive industry to use UNECE's and the Commission's vehicle-noise measurement methods since 2007. The draft Commission proposal uses the latest UNECE calculation method.

 

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