by Laurie Johnson
KUHF FM (Houston, Texas)
March 15, 2004
A Houston woman nominates the city as one of the country’s noisiest. As Rod Rice reports, she has done more than just complain in her effort to find a little peace and quiet.
Jan Johnston is not one to sit still and do nothing about the noise around her. She says several years ago, she the noise became so bad in Houston that she decided to move to Austin. Once in Austin, she says the noise was so bad that she could not stand it. “I lived there for about a year and left there and went to North Carolina,” she said. And she adds that it was even worse there. The it’ being boom cars with sound systems that make their car shake, and yours, and anything else in the vicinity.
Mike Marshall, who sells sound equipment at Tweeter, says it is more than just loud music. He says it is multiple, huge woofers and powerful amplifiers. Marshall says it is the bass that causes the problem. He says higher frequencies do not have the penetrating power of low frequency bass.
Johnston says something can be done and other cities are doing it. She says in Chicago, violators cars are impounded and they are given stiff fines. She learned that and found allies at Noise Free America, founded by Ted Rueter.
Rueter says noise is related to sleep loss, depression, aggressiveness, high blood pressure and chronic fatigue. He says he hears all the time that local authorities say they have more important problems to tackle. “That really frustrates me because noise is American’s largest number one complaint about their neighborhoods. It’s the main reason why they want to move. It’s a huge quality of life issue,” he said. Noise Free America tackles more than just boom cars, it has problems with car alarms,leaf blowers, motorcycles and almost anything that makes more noise than necessary.
Johnston says she is not averse to loud music and she does not want boom cars’ to be illegal. She says she just wants them to be more responsible and have regard for others in the city. Johnston has tried and failed in her attempts at moving away from noise, but the idea still serves as a flight of fancy.
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