The legislation, proposed by the European Commission in May (2) sets minimum noise and 'rolling resistance' standards for tyres. The committee voted for the noisiest and most inefficient tyres to be phased out and eventually removed from sale in Europe in steps between 2015 and 2019, one year later than the Commission originally proposed.
Nina Renshaw of Transport and Environment (T&E) said: "It is good to see that the Parliament has woken up to the threat road traffic noise poses to citizens and seems ready to act. We urge member states to also back the proposals and vote to give all EU citizens a quieter life."
Reduced tyre rolling resistance can make cars up to 5% more fuel efficient, which has a corresponding impact on reduced CO2 emissions.
The noise standards, as proposed, would cut overall road traffic noise substantially, because tyres are the dominant source of road noise at speeds above 40km/h.
The committee backed the European Commission's proposed noise standards for car tyres, and strengthened those for van, lorry and bus tyres.
Exposure to traffic noise triggers the release of stress hormones which can lead to changes in blood pressure and to a greater risk of some heart diseases. Around 50,000 people in the EU die prematurely each year from heart attacks caused by road traffic noise. (4)
Reducing the noise levels of tyres is much more cost effective than the building of noise barriers, whose costs are generally borne by local authorities, not those responsible for the noise.
Dragomira Raeva of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) said: "Under EU noise legislation, cities must reduce noise levels in urban areas. Since vehicle tyres are the biggest source of noise in our cities, this represents a very logical decision that will ultimately help municipalities meet their obligations while improving their residents' quality of life."
The parliament also backed plans to make tyre pressure monitoring systems (TPMS) mandatory, but called for them to be accurate enough to measure the small changes in pressure that would lead to lower fuel efficiency. The Commission's proposal was for a less accurate system, that would simply show when a tyre is severely deflated or flat.
1. November 4, T&E press release on industry committee vote: www.transportenvironment.org/News/2008/11/Parliament-puts-the-brakes-on-energy-efficient-tyres/
2. European Commission proposal: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=CELEX:52008PC0316:EN:NOT
3. Link to Schwab draft report: www.europarl.europa.eu/activities/committees/draftReportsCom.do?language=EN&body=IMCO4.
4. See T&E publication, 'Can you hear us?': www.transportenvironment.org/Publications/prep_hand_out/lid:494