July 1, 2008
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: The Oakland police department has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for equipping all 45 of its Harley Davidson motorcycles with loud tailpipes–in violation of federal noise standards. In Oakland, the police department is a major contributor to noise and lawlessness.
The Oakland police department’s new noisemakers average 93 decibels–well above the federal standard of 80 decibels. Also, the department’s action to modify factory-issued mufflers in any way violates the federal Noise Control Act of 1972.
Dave Kozick, Oakland’s deputy police chief, justified the department’s lawlessness by asserting that “there’s an old motorcycle adage that you are heard before you are seen.” He cited a lone anecdote in which an Oakland police motorcyclist was hit by a motorist who said he hasn’t seen the officer.
However, even the national Motorcycle Industry Council, which represents the largest motorcycle manufacturers, does not support the ridiculous argument that “loud pipes save lives.” Mike Mount, the group’s spokesman, said that “we encourage all motorcycle riders to keep the original low sound levels that meet the federal sound limit of 80 decibels. It would seem counter-intuitive that a law enforcement agency would go against federal standards.”
Louis Hagler, a resident of Oakland, is a medical doctor who has researched the health effects of noise pollution. Dr. Hagler stated that “at a time when motorcycle manufacturers, riders associations, citizens groups, and municipalities all over the country are working to quiet the noise of motorcycles, the Oakland Police Department has decided to make its motorcycles noisier. This is shameful! The Oakland police is violating federal noise regulations and the state vehicular code–and adding to the city’s unwanted and unhealthy noise.”
According to Mike Smith, an anti-noise activist in Pulaski, Virginia, “Oakland has long been a national trend-setter when it comes to noise and anti-social behavior. Some of the first boom cars originated in Oakland, as well as Sideshows–both of which have become national menaces, making life miserable for millions of Americans,” said Smith. “Now the Oakland Police Department is adopting loud after-market pipes for their motorcycle fleet in the dawn of new enforcement measures across America to quiet these noisemakers. Not even the American Motorcycle Association supports the idiotic claim that noise equals safety. The Oakland Police Department’s actions violate the EPA’s ‘label matching’ regulation that governs motorcycle exhausts. The police should not be in the business of flagrantly violating the law.”
Ted Rueter, Noise Free America’s director, commented that “Oakland cops claimed that they ‘felt unsafe’ riding quiet motorcycles. This is absurd. There is not a shred of evidence that loud pipes are safer than quiet pipes. Most motorcycle accidents are head-on collisions. Obviously, motorists ahead of motorcyclists cannot hear the thunderous roar. Also, loud pipes–besides violating the law–cause confusion for other motorists, and cause hearing loss. They make other drivers angry and disoriented. In reality, loud pipes probably cause accidents.”
Rueter added, “police in this country are a major problem. Most police departments make noise enforcement a low priority. They let cars and motorcycles with loud stereos and loud pipes roam the streets with impunity, harming the public health and welfare. Now we discover that the police in Oakland actually enjoy making noise. We will only have peace and quiet when police departments recognize that noise violations are crimes, and must be enforced.”
Noise Free America is a national citizens organization opposed to noise pollution. Its web site is www.noisefree.org. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen ward include Stockton, northeast Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo, UCLA, Governor Gray Davis, and Congressman Darrell Issa www.noisefree.org/newsroom/pressreleases.php.