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Joint Position Paper on new EU vehicles noise limits

12 April 2012 - Traffic noise is one of the most widespread environmental problems in the European Union. Noise interferes with people’s daily activities at school, at work, at home and during leisure time. It causes sleep disturbance, hearing damage, even cardiovascular disease; and hinders performance at work and children’s learning(i). Studies have revealed that fifty thousand deaths(ii) and approaching a quarter of a million cases of cardiovascular disease every year in Europe are linked to traffic noise. According to the World Health Organisation, traffic noise in Europe is the second biggest environmental threat to health after air pollution.

Noise standards for road vehicles have not been updated for 20 years and had little impact on noise levels adjacent to roads.

On 9 December 2011, the Commission published a proposal for a Regulation on the sound levels of motor vehicles. The proposal, if adopted by the Parliament and the Council, will replace the existing Vehicle Noise directive (70/157/EEC).

Improved standards are long overdue but the current proposal fails to adequately deliver the health benefits and cost-savings that are possible by reducing noise from vehicles at the source. Health and Environment Alliance HEAL, Transport & Environment T&E and the European Environmental Bureau EEB have identified a five step plan to strengthen the Commission’s Proposal in a position paper released in April 2012.

View the full position paper here.
View a summary of the position paper here.

(i) WHO press release and report available at quantification-of-healthy-life-years-lost-in-europe (ii) CE Delft (2007) Traffic noise reduction in Europe: Health effects, social costs and technical and policy options to reduce road and rail traffic noise, den Boer, Schroten, Delft, August 2007. Available from:

Last updated on 9 May 2012

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