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The European Connection

Sep 18, 2014
Earlier this year, the European Parliament (EP) voted in favour of a European Commission (EC) proposal to decrease vehicle noise.

Road noise emissions to be reduced

Noise limit values will ultimately be decreased by 4 dB(A)* for cars, vans, buses and coaches and for trucks by 3 dB(A). Altogether, this is expected to reduce vehicle noise nuisance by some 25%. Despite increasing traffic, noise emissions limits for vehicles have not changed since 1996. The limits values will be decreased in 3 steps: The first step will apply two years after publication of the final approval of the proposal, followed by the second step in 5/7 years and the third step in ten/12 years.

In addition, a new and more representative test method to measure sound emissions will ensure that the sound level of vehicles under street driving conditions does not differ from the type-approval test results. This test method is recognised internationally, making it easier for vehicle manufacturers to export outside the EU.

Finally it is proposed that electric and hybrid electric vehicles be fitted with sound generating devices which would make these cars safer for pedestrians and visually impaired people.

The World Health Organisation has concluded that reduction of traffic noise is essential to improve the health and quality of life of Europe's citizens.

The deal reached by the EP and the Council is the follow up of the proposal made by the EC back in 2011.

New noise limits measured with a new test method

The noise levels of new vehicles will be measured by a new and more representative test method.

To this end, so-called additional sound emission provisions (ASEP) will be included in the test procedure. These are preventive requirements which will ensure that the sound emissions of a vehicle under street driving conditions will not differ significantly from what can be expected from the type-approval test result for the relevant specific vehicle.

'Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems' for electric vehicles

So-called 'Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems' requirements are aimed at ensuring that only adequate sound devices are used which will also lead to a harmonisation of the technology. The fitting as such will be mandatory for all Electric and hybrid electric vehicles after a transitional period of 5 years. This is aimed at increasing road safety and avoiding road-accident injuries.

A global benefit

Having the same basic rules throughout the EU will make it easier to buy, sell and use vehicles in any Member State – and will help to ensure equal health, safety and environmental standards across the EU.

With this proposal the current EU rules applicable to noise emissions from vehicles will be updated and further aligned with internationally recognised UN standards. This should enable improved market access for European car manufacturers in those third countries which are contracting parties to the UNECE Agreement of 1958 and thus boost the competitiveness of European industry.

*A-weighted decibels [dB(A)] are an expression of the relative loudness of sounds in air as perceived by the human ear.

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