• Tyre noise exemption for SUVs as research shows traffic noise causing more deaths than car accidents

    The European Commission is set to propose new noise and energy efficiency standards for tyres with a blanket exemption for Europe's noisiest and most gas gazzling sports-utility vehicles (SUVs), according to draft rules seen by T&E.

    [mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]The news comes as new research presented by the German environment agency (UBA) to the World Health Organisation last week showed that traffic noise poses the same risks to health as passive smoking and is responsible for more damage to public health overall than road traffic accidents (1).

    A report published in February by T&E showed that close to half of all Europeans are regularly exposed to traffic noise levels that are potentially dangerous to health. The report found that noise from rail and road transport is linked to 50,000 fatal heart attacks every year and 200,000 cases of cardio-vascular disease in the EU. (2)

    Nina Renshaw, transport noise campaigner at T&E said: “The EU has an embarrassing record on cutting noise from road transport. Although noise standards are already in place they are totally ineffective: cars are no quieter now than in the 1970s. Around half of all Europeans are suffering the consequences with sleepless nights, heart problems and impacts on learning abilities. Today’s proposals do not go far enough to address this worsening problem, and giving concessions to Europe’s noisiest vehicles is totally incomprehensible.”

    According to T&E, quite apart from the SUV exemption, half of all car tyres sold today already comply with the proposed new noise limits.

    “With around 50% of car tyres on the market already complying with the proposed new standards, this package sends completely the wrong message to Europe’s 74 billion Euro tyre industry. We need tough standards that require and inspire innovation and new technology in the industry. This has been the case with EURO emissions standards for new cars, so why not with tyres?” said Renshaw (3).

    The tyre proposals also set new standards for rolling-resistance (energy efficiency / CO2 emissions) of tyres. But again the limits are unambitious. T&E estimates that more than 50% of the market already meet the second (final) stage of the proposed limits and, again, SUV tyres, for the most inefficient vehicles will get an exemption.

    If the average tyre sold in Europe was as good as the current state of the art, there would be at least a 5% reduction in overall CO2 emissions from cars.

    The European Commission proposal on new tyre standards is due to be published on Friday 23 May.

    Notes to editors:

    (1) Dr W. Babisch, German Federal Environment Agency, presentation to World Health Organisation expert meeting on Practical Guidance for Risk Assessment of Environmental Noise, 15 May 2008, Bonn

    (2) See T&E report.

    (3) Europe’s EURO emissions standards for cars have generally been proposed at a time when most cars did not meet the standard, in order to encourage a leap forward in emissions control technology. For example, there are no diesel cars yet on the market in Europe that already meet Euro 6 emissions standards due to come into force in 2014.