December 6, 2017
Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet
For immediate release
Chapel Hill: The Newark, Delaware police department has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet for failing to enforce the state’s muffler law. Dishonorable mention also goes to the Delaware state police, the Delaware Department of Transportation, the Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles, Governor John Carney, and Senator Tom Carper for their inaction on this matter.
Craig Fazekas of Milford, Delaware asks,”Are there laws any longer concerning acceptable decibel levels on auto exhaust systems? I’ve encountered exhaust systems so loud they’ve outright scared me when accelerating next to me unexpectedly while driving. These are usually found on small ‘low rider’ cars and pickup trucks whose owners install purposefully loud exhaust system options. Obnoxious as auto exhausts are to begin with, and some chose to heighten that with an audible equivalent? That can be heard a half mile away?”
Fazekas suggests that lawmakers and police follow through on laws designed to address this prevalent issue. He stated that “we need a statewide initiative to crack down on this noise pollution as well as give our ears and ability to drive safely a break.”
Another Delaware resident, Bryan Everett of Newark, stated that “it seems to me that cars and motorcycles are becoming louder. Many of these vehicles are outfitted with after-market mufflers that are designed to be loud and noisy. I have previously contacted my state representative, the Delaware Department of Transportation, the Newark Police Department, the Delaware State Police, the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles, and Senator Tom Carper’s office. All were sympathetic to my concerns and informed me there are laws requiring vehicles to meet noise standards, but they all went on to explain that these laws are hard to enforce, and I got the opinion they didn’t want to be bothered.”
Everett states that “these loud cars and ear drum-splitting motorcycles are becoming an epidemic and are disruptive, especially late at night when they can be heard a half-mile away when trying to sleep or in the neighborhood when they cruise up and down the streets.”
Noise pollution, Everett observes, “is a serious problem, as evidenced by the $1 million to $3 million per mile spent on sound barriers on highways like the Blue Route. Indeed, noise is used to torture prisoners.”
Everett calls on fellow Delaware residents to contact their representatives, as “nothing will be done unless enough people voice their opinion. After all, tons of money has been spent on building sound barriers for roads. Why not reduce the sound to begin with and quiet the noise at the source?”
Larry Deal, a member of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet in North Carolina, is the co-author of Guide to Modified Exhaust Systems: A Reference for Law Enforcement and Motor Vehicle Inspectors. Deal argues that “the police and motor vehicle authorities in Delaware can enforce the state muffler, and it’s not hard to enforce at all. They should not be blowing off the complaints of Delaware citizens by claiming the muffler law is ‘hard to enforce.’ They should be putting some energy into enforcing the state muffler law.”
“Those authorities need to enforce the muffler law, not make excuses for not enforcing it,” Deal states. “The muffler law is not too hard to enforce, but it does take effort on the part of the authorities to enforce it. Apathy and profound ignorance seem to be at work here.
Addressing the problem with decibel level measurements is not the best way to deal with the problem, states Deal. He notes that “it will only lead to little to no action on the part of the authorities. The decibel level approach is inherently enforcement inhibiting and provides the authorities with an easy excuse for not enforcing the state muffler law.”
The authorities in Delaware seem to think they have to actually measure the obviously excessively loud exhaust noise emissions of those vehicles in order to enforce the state muffler law. Such an enforcement method is technically inadequate and very cumbersome to carry out, but no such exhaust noise testing is necessary in order to enforce the state muffler law.
The state muffler does not require exhaust noise measurements. The state law requires highway vehicles to be equipped with “a muffler in good working order and in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise.”
Vehicles that are not equipped with a muffler in good working order and in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications are the ones causing all of the obviously “excessive or unusual noise.” Illegally modified exhaust systems are the root cause of the problem. The root cause of the problem should be targeted–not just its painfully obvious symptoms.
Deal concluded, “The authorities in Delaware need to enforce the muffler law. The police have always been authorized to stop vehicles that are emitting obviously excessive or unusual noise and ticket the operator of the vehicle. The owner of the vehicle should be required to have its exhaust system inspected and have it replaced with one that is in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications if it is found that it has been modified or replaced with one that is not factory equivalent. Such noise making non-factory equivalent exhaust systems are often referred to as ‘performance’ exhaust systems, or for motorcycles, exhaust systems ‘for use on closed courses only.’”
Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet, observed that “Delaware state law is very clear. Section § 4311 of the state motor vehicle code states”:
“Clearly,” Rueter stated, “the Newark police department and all law enforcement agencies in Delaware should be enforcing the state’s muffler law and protecting the public from excessive noise.”
Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet is a national citizens’ organization opposed to excessive noise. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include central Pennsylvania; Erie, Pennsylvania; and the Pennsylvania Harley Owners Group.