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Government gets tough on noisy vehicles

10 February 2006

Government gets tough on noisy vehicles


Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven today said measures to combat noisy vehicles are close to completion and are being implemented over the next few months.

"The government is fed up with drivers of noisy vehicles and is committed to taking action to address this issue. There is a small number of inconsiderate drivers who are causing a large amount of annoyance and frustration for many New Zealanders," Mr Duynhoven said.

Transport officials are meeting with the Police to discuss increasing the enforcement of noisy vehicle laws.

>From 16 January this year, Police have been able to issue an instant $250 infringement fee and impose 10 demerit points if a person drives a vehicle in a noisy manner. Previously, the infringement fee was $150 with no demerit points.

Police can also 'green sticker' a vehicle that breaches the noise requirements of the Vehicle Equipment Rule 2004, which prevents the vehicle from being driven on the road until it has re-passed a warrant or certificate of fitness test at an independent testing station.

"Transport officials are investigating the implementation of a robust and repeatable objective noise test to supplement the subjective (opinion-based) noise test currently used by WoF/CoF testing agents.

"The objective noise test will be based on the international ISO 5130 measurement of exhaust sound level emitted by stationary road vehicles and the Australian National Stationary Exhaust Noise Test Procedure. Both methods measure exhaust noise using sound equipment placed 0.5 metres from the tailpipe of the vehicle.

"I am currently finalising interim measures to introduce the objective noise test. These measures include placing orders for testing equipment in the next few weeks and finalising decisions on location of test sites. These interim measures can be adopted under existing legislation, meaning the objective noise test will be progressively implemented over the next two - three months, considerably less time than a change to relevant legislation," said Mr Duynhoven.

The interim measures align with the government's longer term plan to address noisy vehicles and will target the worst offending vehicles. They will be followed by additional legislation later this year to further reduce the permissible noise levels from vehicles.

"In an effort to further reduce excessive noise from vehicles, my officials will be progressing appropriate changes to relevant legislation. This will also allow for the ongoing review of associated decibel limits," said Mr Duynhoven today.

Progress and details of the interim measures will be announced as soon as possible.

Questions and Answers

1. What vehicle noise legislation is in place now?

Currently, section 7.4 of the Land Transport (Road User) Rule 2004 provides for on-road enforcement of vehicle noise. Under this Rule, a Police officer can issue an instant $250 infringement offence notice carrying 10 demerit points if a person operates a vehicle that creates noise which, having regard to all the circumstances is excessive. Since February 2005 this has included noise from stereos and "boom boxes".

In addition to roadside enforcement, all vehicles undergo a subjective noise test during warrant and certificate of fitness (WoF/CoF) checks. Clause 2.7(3) of the Land Transport Rule: Vehicle Equipment 2004 (previously, regulation 81 of the Traffic Regulations 1976) states that noise from an exhaust system must not be noticeably and significantly louder than it would have been when the motor vehicle was manufactured with its original exhaust system.

Under section 115(1) of the Land Transport Act 1998, a Police officer can also 'green sticker' a vehicle that is seen to breach the noise requirements of the Vehicle Equipment Rule 2004, directing that the vehicle is not to be driven on a road until it has passed a WOF test at an independent testing station.

2. What is an objective noise test?

An objective noise test uses scientific methods to measure noise levels. In this case, the proposed objective noise test would scientifically measure vehicle exhaust noise levels against a pre-determined standard.

3. What needs to be done before testing starts?

Officials are currently finalising a test procedure that will produce fair results when used on the types of vehicle in the New Zealand fleet in a typical testing station environment. Warrant and certificate of fitness testing agents who wish to conduct objective noise tests will need to invest in test equipment which will have to be sourced from overseas suppliers.

4. What happens if a vehicle fails the objective noise test?

Currently, if a vehicle fails the subjective noise test the vehicle is required to be repaired to make it compliant. If a vehicle is fitted with a modified exhaust, which causes the vehicle to fail, the exhaust must then be replaced. The same would apply if a vehicle failed the proposed objective noise test - the vehicle would need to be repaired to ensure it is compliant.

5. Will the current subjective noise test continue?

The proposed objective noise test is anticipated to supplement the subjective noise test currently being used by warrant and certificate of fitness testing agents. It is foreseen that vehicles failing the current subjective noise test may be required to undergo an objective noise test.

6. How will the objective noise test be monitored for consistency?

Land Transport New Zealand is responsible for auditing and compliance of warrant and certificate of fitness providers and the testing of vehicles entering New Zealand, and has an ongoing programme to ensure that vehicle compliance rules are applied consistently across New Zealand. Any proposed objective noise testing standard would also meet these conditions.


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