Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet

For immediate release
January 31, 2022

Ted Rueter
[email protected]

Chapel Hill: The New York state legislature and the Governor of New York have won a “Healthy Soundscape” award from Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet for passing and signing the “SLEEP” Act, intended to reduce motor vehicle noise in the Empire State.

The SLEEP Act (Stop Loud and Excessive Exhaust Pollution) was introduced by state Senator Andrew Gounardes of Brooklyn and state Assembly member Bill Magnarelli of Syracuse; the bill was recently signed by Governor Kathy Hochul.

The introduction to the bill (S. 784B) states that its purpose is “to increase enforcement against motorists and repair shops that illegally modify mufflers and exhaust systems to make them excessively noisy for motor vehicles and motorcycles.” Section one of the bill makes it “illegal to sell, offer for sale, or install a cut-out, bypass, or similar device for the muffler or exhaust system of a motor vehicle or motorcycle. The fine for a violation would be up to $1000.”

The second section of the bill raises “the fine to $500 for a violation of the law prohibiting operating a motorcycle with altered exhaust systems.”

The bill is necessary, the New York legislature notes, because “an increasing number of car and motorcycle enthusiasts are making modifications to increase the noise and pollution levels emitted. This trend is leading to multiple noise complaints, especially from residents in areas where illegal street drag racing takes place. Excessive noise is not simply an annoyance or inconvenience; the World Health Organization has labeled it an ‘underestimated threat,’ and in a country where one in four people will suffer from loss of hearing, it represents an undue burden on people who do not have the resources to protect themselves from it.”

The state legislature notes that “current law allows for a maximum of a $150 fine for after-market violations to muffler and exhaust systems. Not only is this a relatively small amount compared to other states; it is also not enough of a deterrent to many who are spending far more money to make modifications to their vehicles. This bill would increase the maximum fine to $1,000 in order to create a larger deterrent to this behavior.”
Dr. Bonnie Sager of Huntington, New York commented that “noise is a public health hazard. It is unwanted by most and harmful to all. Scientific evidence clearly shows that noise causes hearing loss, annoyance, sleep disruption, cardiovascular disease, increased anxiety, depression, and other harmful physical and mental effects. Kudos to the state legislature and the governor for recognizing the intrusive and deleterious effect modified mufflers have on our communities. New York state will now have the ability to deter and punish the few who harm the many.”
Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet, stated that “passage of the SLEEP Act is a major development. The law is a model for other state legislatures. I encourage all supporters of peace and quiet to contact their state legislators, asking them to enact a similar bill.”
“In addition,” Rueter concluded, “state Senator Goundares is also worthy of praise for introducing S. 6057, whose purpose is to ‘establish a noise camera demonstration program for motor vehicles in the city of New York.’ Stiff fines and noise cameras are the pathway toward a quieter nation and an improved quality of life.”
Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet is a national citizens’ organization devoted to noise reduction. Past winners of the Healthy Soundscape award include West Chester, PennsylvaniaPortland, Oregon; and Washington, DC.