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Simple rules could get rid of noisy exhausts

18 September 2008

Proposed legislation regulating cars with noisy exhausts should be simplified, according to the Christchurch City Council’s Nuisances in Public Places Working Party.

The working party and Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker yesterday lodged submissions on the draft Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Equipment (Noise) Amendment 2009.  The Rule is aimed particularly at vehicles with modified exhausts that are not complying with current noise requirements.

The working party  believes that if the legislation was simplified, the issue could be more effectively policed and  noisy exhausts could disappear within a year.

Cr Bob Shearing, working party chairman, said  the  public was sick and tired of the nuisance caused by noisy exhausts.

“We don’t see why the Government cannot keep the legislation simple, just put in place a 90 decibel limit for all cars, and also ensure cars coming into the country meet our noise standards.

“It is too easy otherwise for cars to be modified to get around the regulations and the problem will just continue.  We believe that if the rule was made clear and simple, across the board, with the help of the police we could  rid of this problem in a year.”

The proposed amendment distinguishes between cars manufactured after 1985, depending on when they were first registered in New Zealand. Those first registered before June 2008 would be controlled by a static test limit of 95dBA, except for those vehicles with modified exhausts which have been assessed as exceeding that level. Other vehicles manufactured after 1985 but first registered after June 2008 would be controlled by a noise limit in a static test of 90dBA. The amendment also requires cars manufactured before May 2009 to meet a drive-by limit of 81dBA.

The rule change also proposes that noise tests would not be required for vehicles manufactured after January 1985 and first registered in 2009 if they complied at the time of manufacture with a vehicle noise standard that allowed them to be operated on a road in Australia, the EU, Japan or the USA.

The rule change further proposes  a complete prohibition on un-silenced and vented “blow-off” valves. The working party fully supported this change but expressed some concern that while the equipment could be removed, it could also easily be replaced later.

The working party considered  the 95dBA limit was inappropriately high,  did not address the public nuisance and health issues that Christchurch residents were most concerned about, and was excessive by overseas noise standards.

It is also considered that the wording signalled  to owners of modified vehicles that they only needed to comply with the 90dBA limit at the time of a test, but could then further modify their exhaust after the test,  to exceed 95dBA.  The difference between 90dBA and 95dBA is considerable and clearly noticeable:  A level exceeding 95dBA would sound almost twice as loud as 90dBA

The working party wants  a ‘simple but sure’ limit of 90dBA for stationary exhaust tests for all vehicles manufactured on or after 1 January 1985, regardless of their date of first registration in New Zealand, and regardless of their state of modification.

“ It is considered that a single-number limit of 90dBA can be applied with certainty and without ambiguity as a standard for the life of the majority of vehicles that are “in service”, and will more effectively control unnecessarily noisy vehicles being operated on New Zealand’s roads,” the  submission said.

The working party was also concerned about overseas noise standards being applied to cars entering New Zealand.

There is no assurance that noise performance standards which allowed a vehicle to operate in Australia, the European Union, Japan or the United States of America in the period of manufacture following 1 January 1985 did not exceed the 81dBA ‘drive-by’ standard which is applied to vehicles entering service in New Zealand.

“There is also  no assurance that the exhausts of vehicles manufactured following 1 January 1985 and entering service in New Zealand on or after 1 May 2009 have been maintained in their original configuration to ensure that their ‘drive-by’ noise output does not exceed 81dBA.”

Submissions on the amendment closed yesterday.


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