Europeans will have to wait decades for a good night’s sleep

An agreement reached yesterday means quieter road vehicles won’t be introduced for another 15 years. Transport & Environment (T&E) believes the deal crafted last night by the Commission, European Parliament and Member States is disgraceful, prioritizing the wishes of the car industry over the health of EU citizens. It means decades of delay for a quieter, healthier Europe.

Europeans have been waiting for noise standards for road vehicles to be reduced for the last 20 years. The agreed regulation will now reduce, in three phases, overall vehicle noise (compared to today) by around 2,6dB for all new vehicles, starting from 2014. The deal allows a 15 year delay before the new standard is fully introduced, compared to the Commission proposal which would have them introduced in 7 years. Following the 15 year delay, the updated standard will apply to all new vehicles sold. Because the European car fleet renews every 15 years, the full benefits of lower noise levels will only be heard after 30 years.
T&E policy officer Cécile Toubeau said: “This huge delay in better vehicle noise standards is unacceptable, especially when nearly a quarter of cars and a third of lorries tested over the last five years already meet the standards to be implemented in the final phase. There is no need to allow a noisy few vehicles to continue to blight our cities for decades.
44% of EU-citizens are exposed to noise levels that pose a serious risk to health. Some of the health impacts include cardiovascular disease, asthma and sleep disturbance. The benefits of reducing vehicle noise in better health and quality of life and higher property prices outweigh the costs by a factor of thirty. 
In September 2013, an independent report assessed the impact of different noise proposals. The Commission proposal would provide a societal benefit of around €190 billion and cost the car-industry €7 billion to implement. The Council proposal, which has been adopted, provides much less benefit (€123 billion) but for almost the same cost to the industry (€5.7 billion). To save the car industry €1.3 billion, the cost to society is €67 billion.
It is outrageous that, in times of austerity, decision-makers are putting extra burden on society and government purses, while at the same time giving industry an easy ride. Reducing vehicle noise has huge health and societal benefits, but at the same time, almost half of Europeans are currently exposed to dangerous levels of this road traffic noise. The agreement struck last night does more to protect vehicle manufacturers than the health of Europe’s citizens. We call on the European Parliament to reject this proposal outright,” Toubeau concluded. 

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