Table of Contents

Noise Pollution

29. Noise Pollution Regulations

All frequently reoccurring noises (occurring at least twice a week) originating from any residential, commercial (including food cart bells or horns, ice cream truck music, etc.), government, public, or other property should not transmit noises to any other occupied residential property in excess of 10 decibels above average ambient noise levels during the nighttime hours between 12 PM and 6 AM. Exceptions to this rule would include vehicles traveling in a normal manner (without excessive acceleration) and within the posted speed limit. The maximum noise restrictions imposed for the hours between 10 PM and 7AM would be 15 decibels above ambient noise levels, as measured from the nearest residential property line, while 20 decibels would be the maximum limit during the hours between 8 PM and 7 AM.

During weekends and holidays all restricted times would be extended by one hour during the evenings. For New Year’s Eve, all restrictions would begin at 1 AM.

During all other times, noises infringing on residential properties should not exceed 25 decibels above ambient noise.

The above noises and decibel limits can be applied most easily to mechanical noises such as air conditioners, fans, pool pumps, etc., but also include musical instruments, televisions, radios, etc. However, any noises deemed unreasonably loud, disturbing, unnecessary, or annoying by a government official, even though they may fall within the decibel limits defined above, could qualify as noise pollution, subjecting the parties generating that noise to fines.

Noise infringements onto industrial properties would be restricted to a maximum of 65 decibels as measured from the loudest boundary line of the offending property. Noise restrictions onto commercial businesses (businesses in which customers come visit) would be restricted to 10 decibels above the restrictions existing for residential properties.

Special exemptions could be made on a temporary basis to allow more noise to legally infringe on other properties. However, all property owners and occupants affected would need to agree to the relaxed regulations for the proposed period of time (usually lasting some number of years). Perhaps willing property owners could financially (or otherwise) compensate the unwilling property owners or residents to encourage them to agree to a temporary relaxation of the rules.

These decibel restrictions do not apply to normal property maintenance operations occurring during normal working hours 8 AM to 7 PM, like operating motorized gardening equipment, construction noises, etc.

Every political jurisdiction should have enough personnel to handle the expected load of noise complaints so that an inspection officer could be sent out to every reported location where a violation is occurring within about 20 minutes of receiving the complaint, and take a decibel reading to determine if a violation is indeed occurring. Offenders should receive no warnings. Penalties, based on an average number of peak decibel events within, for example, a 5 or 10 minute period generated over the maximum limit, should be levied whenever there is an infraction, perhaps at the rate of $50 for every decibel over the maximum limit.

Plastic Wheel Noise

Large toys such as tricycles, play cars, trash cans, etc., and other items meant to operate on hard surfaces should not have wheels made out of plastic or any other material that makes a lot of noise when rolled over hard surfaces that may have a few grains of sand on it. Instead the wheels should be made or coated with rubber or some other material, or designed differently so that they roll quietly over hard surfaces.


30. Prohibit Low-Flying Aircraft During Nighttime Hours

Helicopters and other aircraft should be prohibited from flying low over residential neighborhoods during nighttime hours, such as between 10 PM and 6 AM, except during emergencies or major news events. More precisely, aircraft should be prohibited from causing noises louder than a certain decibel level, such as 50 decibels, on the ground in residential neighborhoods during the restricted hours. Areas around airports could be zoned for higher noise levels, if required and approved through the normal channels.


31. Car Alarm Regulations

Following are some requirements for making car alarms much less annoying and more useful.

1. Audible car alarm owners should be charged an annual fee of perhaps $30 to discourage them from choosing to use this type of alarm system instead of other, less noisy, car security methods (such as keychain alarms).

2. The setting of car alarms should be done either quietly (such as visually by using lights) and/or audibly but without making noises louder than 40 decibels at a distance of 20 feet from any part of the vehicle.

3. Loud audible vehicle alarms should automatically be disabled if the proper key is used to open the door or trunk.

4. Vehicle alarm systems must be made to sound only if the vehicle is being damaged or broken in to.

5. Alarms should not be triggered due to sound waves (loud music, loud cars, low helicopters, etc.)

6. Alarms should not be triggered due to ground vibrations (heavy trucks, etc.)

7. Vehicle alarm systems should not sound during earthquakes (unless the vehicle is physically damaged because alarm systems cannot often distingush between earthquake-caused damage and human-caused damage).


32. Speakers – 100 Decibel Maximum

Audio equipment (namely speakers) should be limited to the generation of sounds no greater than 100 decibels at the minimum recommended distance from the speakers.


33. Honking the Horn

Honking the horns of cars, trucks, buses, trains, ships, etc., for no good reason should be illegal and subjected to a fine of at least $100 or even more depending on the situation and perhaps also on the estimated number of people that could have heard the sound of the horn. For example, honking to call someone who is inside a building, such as a house or apartment, or honking because the car in front of you didn’t respond within three seconds to a signal light that changed to green, or because the driver of the car ahead of you decided not to make a left turn during a gap in oncoming traffic that you thought he could have made it through, should all be illegal and fined. This rule should especially apply to bus drivers. Even accidental honking during ‘the wrong’ time (meaning when such a honk could have been interpreted as directed to someone) should be subjected to a fine so that people don’t just claim that they ‘accidentally’ honked the horn to get out of a fine.


34. Vehicle Noise and Wind

Buses and all other vehicles allowed to operate on public roads should be designed so that, as they accelerate or pass by pedestrians, especially those sitting at a bus stop or walking on a sidewalk or in vehicles next to the offending vehicle, such vehicles should not direct extremely loud engine noises, blow annoying amounts of exhaust, air, or road dust towards any location around the vehicle where pedestrians or other people may possibly be located.

All vehicles should be required to be designed so that their engines and exhaust systems emit no more than 100 decibels of noise (at a distance of three feet from all points around the vehicle) at speeds of up to 65 MPH and through all reasonable acceleration and braking procedures. Tire noises should also be considered.

Motorcycles should also follow these regulations so that they do not produce excessively loud and annoying noises.

The fines for violating these regulations should be at least equivalent to the fine for littering (because they are, in fact, littering the environment with noise).