February 1, 2006
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for failing to take action against the scourge of noise. While NHTSA’s stated goal is to “reduce motor vehicle injuries and fatalities,” it refuses to restrict egregious noise from boom cars and motorcycles–major sources of driver distraction.
Formed in the mid-1960s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration describes its mission as “save lives, prevent injuries, reduce vehicle-related craches.” Public pressure was growing to increase the safety of cars, partly the result of Ralph Nader’s book, Unsafe at Any Speed.
“However, NHTSA has limited its efforts to crash tests and safety dummies,” said Ted Rueter, Noise Free America’s director. “It has completely ignored the role of noise-related driver distraction in producting car accidents and injuries. Loud, annoying noise from boom cars, hot rods, and motorcycles helps produce road rage, accidents, and injuries. NHTSA has taken no action against these threats to public safety.”
NHTSA calculates that driver distractions cause one-quarter of automobile and motorcycle accidents. Boom car drivers experience reduced reaction times and peripheral vision when listening to loud, thumping music.
In addition, the loud bass decreases the ability of drivers to hear police and fire emergency vehicles. Kerri Waldowski, author of Hearing Conservation for Dummies, states that “not only can listening to a car stereo potentially cause hearing loss, but it can be distracting and interfere with our ability to hear emergency sirens. A siren is ineffective if it is not 8-12 decibels louder than the background noise of a car. Listening levels often surpass the volume emitted from emergency sirens.”
According to Rueter, “Booming music from loud car stereos and thunder from hot rods and motorcycles create annoyance and irritability. Boom car drivers are oftening listening to rap music, filled with violent, anti-social lyrics. Loud car stereos can activate car alarms. Boomers and hot rodders are extremely irritating to the peaceful driving public. This combination can produce road rage and deadly distractions. It is time for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to take strong action against this menace.”
Noise Free America is a national citizens organization dedicated to opposing noise pollution. Its web site is http://www.noisefree.org. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include Pioneer Electronics and Echo Manufacturing.