The cities rebel against the noise of the cars. Of the music or its exhaust pipes. More and more cities are embarking on their own crusades against one of the most uncomfortable pollution that we can endure on a daily basis: acoustics. Florida has been the last to take its measures forward, but it is not the only one.
$115. Those who generate excessive noise on the streets of the state of Florida will face penalties of 115 dollars (110 euros). And the cars are in the spotlight. “We’re not trying to go after someone who listens to music in the car and wants to have a good time, but there is a limit to the noise you can make with your car,” Orange County Police Chief Mike Crabb told NBC.
The state of Florida has passed a law that guarantees that those who generate a sufficiently annoying noise with their vehicle can be fined more than 100 euros. The measuring stick? Make the sound audible from 25 feet away. In other words, police officers will be able to financially sanction motorists whose music is heard more than 7.5 meters away. Or, what is the same, with just one car of margin between sanctioned and sanctioned.
My word. against yours. Because according to what NBC collects, the sound will not be measured with a decibel scale or with a receiving device suitable for this task. Simply, the aim is for the sound to be audible, which can generate a continuous source of conflict between agents and citizens. As expected, the US media itself picks up voices against the measure, which suggest that the administration, deep down, what it wants is to raise more money.
More and more cities. The state of Florida thus joins other American and European cities. In February, a case that occurred in New York went viral. So, the driver of a BMW M3 was fined $835 ($770) because his tailpipe was making more noise than allowed. In that case, the sample had been collected with a specialized device for collecting ambient sound.
In Geneva they have been working since 2019 with noise radars, with the aim of monitoring which drivers exceed the maximum limits. It is also a simple way to know who has illegally manipulated the exhaust to increase the decibels that your car emits. Paris has also got down to work and, in our country, tests have already been carried out in cities such as Madrid or Barcelona. Of course, at the moment the DGT ensures that the installation of this type of controller is not considered.
Devices that monitor everything. To measure the sound that we have around us, the so-called “noise radars” are devices with several microphones that detect sound sources in a 360º radius. With them, you can determine what the sound source is, follow its path and even take a picture if necessary. The registered volume is encrypted in its database.
The problem is where and how to install these devices. The closer to the emitting source, the greater the noise generated. In fact, Directive 2002/49/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council states that these devices that determine the noise evaluation must be located on a pole four meters above the ground. Obviously, defining where these noise controllers are located is key if all the necessary data is to be provided.
live with noise. In Spain, 76% of people state that the noise pollution to which they are subjected affects their daily activity and 30% believe that it is “very frequent and annoying”. And the traffic is the main responsible for this excessive noise for people.
In fact, a study carried out in 38 schools in Barcelona has shown that an increase in external noise of 5 dB causes a decrease in children’s attention by 4.8% and slows down working memory by 11.4%. . These are figures that support municipal regulations, which already indicate fines for excess noise and especially punish those offenders who are located next to schools or hospitals. According to the European Environment Agency, each year, 16,600 people in Europe die prematurely and because of noise.
55dB. Europe is already working on reducing noise levels to 55 dB to improve the health of citizens. The WHO goal is to reach 40 dB. In Spain, the measurements of the previous study collected average levels of 63.5 dB. This is especially serious since the volume growth with respect to the increase in decibels is exponential. A 75 decibel sound is almost 100 times more damaging than a 56 decibel sound.
And we also need the noise to live. Interestingly, the European Union has had to establish a minimum and maximum limit on the noise that cars have to emit. Thus, electric cars have to generate at least 56 dB of sound, while the maximum that a car can currently emit is 75 dB. The objective is to put as many obstacles as possible to urban outrages and prevent combustion vehicles from getting out of hand with their noise emissions.
Keep in mind that just as decibel increases generate exponentially higher noise, noise also plummets as it moves through the atmosphere. A sound detected at 200 meters will be a quarter of that recorded at 100 meters, although the formula for its calculation is complex and this data involves intensity, frequency and wavelength, among other parameters.
During a visit to one of the French factories where Renault works on the sound of its electric vehicles, the engineers explained to us that it is always necessary to contextualize what is happening around us. For example, it supports the idea that we are gaining speed when we accelerate. Without a sound specifically designed for it, it is likely that we will feel that the car does not go as fast as it actually does.
Photo | Katy
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism