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Motor Vehicle Noise Level




 Is  Road Traffic Noise a nuisance?


The EU Policy on environmental noise....Traffic noise



In general it is considered amongst the most relevant environment & health problems, just behind the impact of air quality, but potentially becoming more relevant, if no action will be taken. First conservative and partial estimates show that at least 1.600.000Disability Adjusted Life Years are lost every year in the EU, mostly due to road traffic.


What is Regulation 540/2014? 


Brief Background history:

Directive70/175EEC for the permissible sound level and the exhaust system of motor vehicles was first introduced in February 1970, since that time the sound levels were reduced several time the last being in 1995. The Directive was amended by Directive 2007/34/EC, in July 2008.


On the 28/04/2010 the Commission strategy on clean and energy efficient vehicles includes measures to reduce noise.

The Vehicle Noise Limit Values (Venoliva) was commissioned by the European Commission. The final report on noise was passed to Council & Parliament in September 2011.


On December 2012 The European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) voted 60 amendments to the Commission proposal.


At the EP Plantery session in February 2013; the EU member stated that at least 50% of the urban areas are exposed to noise levels above 55 dB as a result of ambient road traffic.  Hence the purpose of these Regulations is to ensure a high level of health and environmental protection as well as a reasonable safeguard of the internal market for motor vehicles.


The draft law was approved by the Parliament with 401 votes in favour, 228 against and 20 abstentions. The limits for standard cars will drop from 74 decibels at present to 68 decibels. The Rapporteur of the project stated that the EU also targets road quality, aerodynamic and wheels. The EU thus wishes to limit health risk, related to noise.


How does this regulation contribute for Traffic Noise reduction, if transposed to our law?


VRT (Malta) limits of the exhaust sound level?

Motor vehicles vary between 100 and 105 dB (A) depending on the car engine capacity and type of fuel.

Motor cycle maximum of 119dB (A)


504/2014 Regulation limits of exhaust sound level?

The present limits between 74 and 80 dB (A) and a further reduction in 2016 to 72 to 80 dB (A); depending on the rated engine power.


UNECE regulation 41 Approval of motor cycles with regard to noise

Motor cycle exhaust sound level vary between 73 & 77 dB (A) according to category.


Why is traffic noise increasing?

The urban spread in Malta, to a lesser extent in Gozo, is developing into one continuous sprawl. This buildup is a mix of residential buildings together with Industrial, Tourist complexes, Hospitals, Schools, Colleges, University and other commercial units. Therefore, private, commercial, public and construction traffic is in close proximity to residential areas for a minimum of 16 hours per day. In fact a high percentage of the roads in urban areas carry more than 7 Million vehicles per year: MEPA.


Traffic noise is a typical area of conflict between individual mobility needs and legitimate societal aspirations for quieter lifestyles. Public concern over noise issues has never been so high, mainly because of the overall increase in road traffic noise.


Regulations and Directives are guidelines for improvement; the desired result is subject to Political commitment.  For this reason, the Government must update the regulations for the reduction of ambient road traffic noise, not as a gesture towards Brussels but as a commitment to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the Maltese citizens.




Directive 2007/34/EU

Regulation EU 540/2014

VENOLIVA - Vehicle Noise Limit Values

European Commission Com (2013) 307 Regulation 41

DG- for internal policy:  Towards a Comprehensive Noise Strategy

S.L. 65.15 Motor Vehicle Roadworthiness Test Regulations

MEPA- Implementation of Directive 2002/49/EC in Malta

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