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Report: Florida needs new laws to reduce excessive car exhaust noise

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(The Center Square) — The Florida Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability released a report recently on the noise levels of exhaust systems, finding that there is evidence that exhaust system noise can adversely affect the health of individuals and the larger community.

The report recommended a few solutions, including using traffic cameras with an integrated noise camera, increasing fines and penalties, and additional training for law enforcement. The report also recommended that the Legislature could pass new laws that allow law enforcement to issue citations for loud exhaust violations using the nuisance standard.

Citations for exhaust noise-related violations have spiked recently, jumping from 857 in 2017-18 to 3,018 citations in fiscal 2021-22.

OPPAGA surveyed Florida law enforcement and found that enforcement practices for exhaust noise violations vary. Law enforcement also noted that while citations and the prevalence of noisy exhausts have increased across the state over the past five years, it is challenging to enforce state laws.

There were a variety of reasons given for not enforcing noise ordinances, including a lack of penalties for violations and preferring state laws over local ordinances to enforce vehicle noise violations. A lack of equipment — specifically a decibel meter — and difficulty inspecting vehicles for modified exhaust equipment were also reported to be barriers.

In the 1970s, the Florida Motor Vehicle Noise Prevention and Control Act and the federal Noise Control Act were adopted. The report notes that this created complicated laws that are often conflicting making violation enforcement difficult for law enforcement.

An individual’s cardiovascular health, stress, annoyance, and sleep, as well as emotional well-being, are a few things that studies have shown can be negatively impacted by excessive noise, according to the report.

Chronic exposure can affect sleep health, which in turn can have negative effects on the cardiovascular system, exposing the individual to possible health issues like prehypertension, hypertension and heart disease. Prolonged noisy environments activate the sympathetic nervous system, which causes sleep disturbance.

According to the report, while there is less literature regarding noise disturbance in children, it was noted that studies that have been conducted show that there is a correlation between environmental noise and lower reading comprehension, concentration deficits, and hyperactivity. Behavioral problems were also pointed out as a result of being exposed to traffic noise.

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