Loud motorcycles and cars becoming annoying

Even compliant new vehicles prove to be much too loud in practical tests

red car with silver exhaust in close-upClick to enlarge
Most people are annoyed by car noise which can even cause illness.
Source: pixelia97 / fotolia.com

The only recently revised international noise approval regulations for motor vehicles are not suitable for preventing extreme noise emissions in road traffic. This is according to a recent study for the German Environment Agency (UBA). Various brand-new motorcycles and sports cars that complied with the approval regulations were 20 dB or more louder during measurements outside the type test area of the approval than during the operating condition that is decisive for the type test. UBA's President Dirk Messner said: "Manufacturers of motorcycles and cars must be made responsible for making their vehicles as quiet as the state of the art allows. Unnecessary noise ex works is unacceptable on the road and is a strain on the health and nerves of everyone".

While the majority of new vehicles on Germany's roads are unobtrusive in terms of their noise, a growing segment of supposedly sporty vehicles is raising public ire. These vehicles, primarily motorcycles and sports cars, stand out from the background noise of flowing traffic and drown out the local soundscape. What is great sound for the drivers is often perceived by local residents as unbearable noise that is not only annoying but can also make them ill.

After the international noise approval regulations for motor vehicles were amended in recent years, UBA conducted a measurement programme to check whether the new regulations prevent extreme noise emissions. Three motorcycles and three cars known for their "sporty sound" were examined. The vehicles were tested both under the statutory type test conditions and under "worst case" conditions in practice outside the area monitored in the type test. It turned out that with the help of flaps and, in some cases, loudspeakers in the exhaust tract, the manufacturers' sound designers obviously succeeded in doing the balancing act of both complying with the noise limit under type-testing conditions and meeting the customer's wish for a specific sound in the road space outside the control area of the type-testing. "Noise protection and the hardships of noise-afflicted citizens are being undermined", said UBA's President Messner.

UBA is therefore proposing that the type-testing regulations be extended to include a noise cap that limits the noise in the vehicle's entire characteristic diagram. As the measurements show, this is because the test procedure, which has so far focused on local driving conditions, cannot effectively prevent particularly loud noise emissions.

Umweltbundesamt Hauptsitz

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau
Germany