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European Parliament approves vehicle noise reduction regulation

The European Parliament approved draft legislation for more stringent regulation of vehicle noise, cutting it by 25% over eight year. The measure also calls for minimum noise levels for electric and hybrid vehicles.

Persistent exposure to high levels of traffic noise can prove physically draining, disrupt organ functions and contribute to cardiovascular and other diseases. Research by the European Environment Agency shows traffic exposes half of the EU’s urban population to noise levels above 55 decibels (db).

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. My idea was more comprehensive from the beginning, we need to address other factors such as road tar quality, aerodynamics and tires.

—rapporteur Miroslav Ouzký (ECR, CZ)

The draft legislation was adopted with 401 votes in favor, 228 against and 20 abstentions. Ouzký will now negotiate an agreement with EU countries.

The draft legislation proposes to phase in new limits six and eight years after the new rules come into force. The first phase would apply to new vehicle models, the second to all new vehicles entering into service.

The limit for standard cars would be reduced to 68 db from 74 db currently. More powerful vehicles would be allowed a margin of 2 to 6 extra decibels. However, MEPs maintained the limit for the most powerful heavy trucks (over 12 tonnes) at 81 db.

MEPs recognize that vehicle noise is also affected by the road surface, tire noise and aerodynamics.

Members also want new cars to be labelled on their noise performance to inform consumers. Similar labeling schemes already exist for fuel efficiency, tire noise and CO2 emissions.

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