The European Parliament has backed proposals to further limit vehicle noise in order to protect public health
Further tightening of EU noise limits for vehicles to protect public health was agreed by the European Parliament yesterday (February 6).
MEPs also recommended that labels be introduced to inform consumers about the level of noise produced by new cars as with similar labelling schemes already used for fuel efficiency, tyre noise and CO2 emissions.
In addition, it was recommended that appropriate levels of sound be added to quiet hybrid and electric vehicles in order to alert pedestrians of the possible threat from the road.
Under the proposals to update the relevant Directive (70/157/EEC), the limit for standard cars would be reduced to 68 decibels (db) from the current 74 db limit, although more powerful vehicles would be allowed a margin of 2 to 6 extra db.
However, MEPs voted to maintain the limit for the most powerful heavy lorries (over 12 tonnes) at 81 db and it was recognised that road surface, tyre noise and aerodynamics also impact on vehicle noise.
Research by the European Environment Agency shows traffic exposes half of the EU’s urban population to noise levels above 55 decibels (db).
The draft legislation proposes to phase in new noise limits six and eight years after the new rules come into force. The first phase would apply to new designs of vehicle, the second to all vehicles entering into service.
At a first reading of the draft proposals, which were agreed by the EU environment committee in December 2012, 401 MEPs voted in favour compared to 228 against and 20 abstentions.
Rapporteur for the proposals, Czech Republic MEP Miroslav Ouzký, said: “The harmful impact of traffic noise has been scientifically proved but the legislative proposal is entirely focused on the noise generated by the vehicle engine.â€?
He added: “My idea was more comprehensive from the beginning, we need to address other factors such as road tar quality, aerodynamics and tyres.â€? Mr Ouzký will now negotiate an agreement with EU countries.
In December 2012, EU environment committee MEPs voted to update the Directive, and the proposals were sent to the Parliament for the first reading this week (see airqualitynews.com story). To become European law, the draft proposals need agreement from both the European Parliament and the European Council.