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11th May 1973, Page 99
11th May 1973
Page 99
Page 99, 11th May 1973 — know the law
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

by Les Oldridge, TEng (CM MIMI, AMIRTE

Noise (4)

DURING the past few weeks I have been examining the law which creates the offence of exceeding the noise limits laid down by the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1973 and the method by which such measurements must be carried out. Other regulations are also aimed at preventing annoyance by noise from motor vehicles and these are much easier for the police to enforce.

Regulation 28 of the C and U Regs requires that every vehicle propelled by an internal combustion engine be fitted with a silencer, expansion chamber or other contrivance suitable and sufficient for reducing as far as may be reasonable the noise caused by the escape of exhaust gases from the engine.

Regulation 98 makes it an offence for any person to use or cause or permit to be used on a road any vehicle so that the exhaust gases from the engine escape into the atmosphere without first passing through the silencer required to be fitted by Regulation 28. It also requires that the silencer be maintained in good efficient working order and not to be altered in such a way that the noise made by the escape of the exhaust gases is made greater by the alteration.

If a lorry is driven with a hole in the down pipe leading from the exhaust manifold to the silencer then the driver would be charged under the earlier part of Regulation 98 "allowing the gases to escape without first passing through the silencer". If there is a hole in the silencer itself an offence is committed of failing to maintain the silencer in good and efficient working order. But what if it is the tail pipe which is defective?

A fracture in this part of the exhaust system will render the exhaust note much louder but it is the opinion of many police officers that no offence against Regulation 98 is committed. It is argued that since the exhaust gases have passed through the silencer as is required, there is no defect in the silencer itself which could lead to a charge of failing to maintain it in good and efficient working order.

Horns are another source of noise which is controlled. Regulation 27 of the C and U Regs requires that every motor vehicle, except a works truck and a pedestriancontrolled vehicle, be fitted with "an instrument capable of giving audible and sufficient warning of its approach or position". A new provision concerning horns is contained in this regulation for on vehicles first used on or after August 1 1973 the sound emitted from them must be continuous and not strident.

The continuous note requirement is easy to understand; the horns which played a tune or sounded more than one note will be prohibited on new vehicles. How the courts will interpretate the term "strident" is difficult to foresee.

The restriction on the use of bells, gongs, sirens and two-tone horns to the emergency services is not concerned with the problem of noise but to facilitate the movement of emergency vehicles through traffic at speed. As I dealt with this subject fairly recently when I was reviewing the C and U Regs I will not enlarge on it here again.

The restriction on the sounding of horns, however, is particularly aimed at the reduction of noise. Regulation 110 makes it an offence to sound an audible warning instrument when a vehicle is stationary on a road other than at times of danger due to another moving vehicle on or near the road.

Before this change in the law one committed a technical offence by sounding the horn while standing in a line of stationary vehicles to warn the driver of the vehicle immediately ahead when he started to reverse. There is also an exemption to the requirements of this regulation when the horn is sounded to raise the alarm as to the theft of the vehicle or the attempted theft of the vehicle or its contents. It is also an offence against the same regulation to sound the horn in a built-up area between 23.30 hours and 07.00 hours.

Regulation 109 states that the driver of a motor vehicle must stop the engine when the vehicle is stationary otherwise than through an enforced stoppage owing to the necessities of traffic to prevent noise. There is a sensible exemption to this requirement for engines being run for testing purposes or to drive machinery for some ancillary purpose.

Vague term

Regulation 106 makes it an offence for any person to use or cause to be used or permit to be used any motor vehicle or trailer which causes excessive noise. This regulation is seldom used, probably because of the difficulty of proving that the noise was excessive. This is such a vague term I think it is likely that future offences of this nature will be dealt with by Regulation 108 which makes it an offence to use a vehicle which makes a noise exceeding named limits.

Regulation 107 states that no vehicle shall be used on a road in such a manner as to cause excessive noise which could have been avoided by the exercise of reasonable care on the part of the driver. One can visualize circumstances where this law may be used by the police to• deal with troublesome complaints. For example, unnecessary revving of engines by drivers leaving a depot in a residential area in the early hours of the morning may constitute an offence against this section.


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