• Scientists ‘seriously concerned’ over tyre noise weakening

    A European Parliament-backed report that supports the weakening of new tyre noise standards has been heavily criticised by the leading independent experts in Europe.

    [mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]The report, commissioned by Andreas Schwab, the MEP responsible for agreeing the Parliament’s position on the new tyre standards, is set to be published on Wednesday. But its preliminary findings have already heavily influenced Dr Schwab’s draft amendments to the proposed law, prompting him to weaken the noise standards.

    The report was carried out by Cidaut, a Spanish research organisation partnered by Michelin, a major tyremaker, and other car industry interests (1).

    In a letter sent last week (2), academic experts from Austria, The Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom discredit the report’s finding that there is a trade-off between low noise and ‘wet grip’, which affects a car’s ability to stop in wet conditions. The experts point out that the conclusions are based on fifteen-year-old data and do not account for current technology such as anti-lock braking systems (ABS). The finding should be considered ‘irrelevant’ according to the experts, who cite a 2006 study that found low noise and high safety performance are perfectly compatible.

    The scientists also say that low noise tyre technology is already well advanced, and research costs must be placed in the context of the massive benefits of substantially reducing traffic noise.

    Road noise is responsible for the early deaths of around 50,000 Europeans every year as a result of impacts including ischemic heart diseases, stress and sleep disturbance. The social costs of traffic noise are estimated at EUR 40 bn per year. (3)

    Nina Renshaw, Policy Officer at T&E said: “A three decibel cut would reduce tyre noise by half. The danger here is that weakening the standards by one or two decibels may not look like much on paper but would make a massive difference.”

    “There is a substantial body of uptodate research that shows tyres can be made much quieter, with no impact on safety. MEPs should listen to the independent experts, not this shoddy report which is based on outofdate and unreliable information.”

    (1) See www.cidaut.es/infodloc.cidaut
    (2) Link to scientists’ letter: tinyurl.com/5eqtqn
    (3) See T&E report: www.transportenvironment.org/Publications/prep_hand_out/lid/494

    – T&E briefing on tyre standards:

    – Andreas Schwab MEP draft report:

    – The Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) of the European Parliament will vote on the proposed law on 2 December: