NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 4, 2004

The noise usually attributed to cities has moved to the suburbs -- and many communities are establishing new ordinances, as well as updating old laws, to quiet things down.

  • Drivers in Boulder, Colo., can be ticketed for allowing their car stereos to be heard more then one car length away; people are also prohibited from yelling on public property in residential neighborhoods after 11:00 p.m.
  • In Portsmouth, N. H., motorcycles must operate below a certain noise level.
  • New York City is proposing revisions to its old ordinances, including time limits on how long a dog can continuously bark near residences.
  • Tampa, Fla., is enforcing new noise restrictions in the Ybor City entertainment district near residential neighborhoods.

According to the League for the Hard of Hearing, prolonged exposure to noise greater than 85 decibels can cause hearing loss. A quiet residential area produces about 40 decibels of noise, while lawn mowers produce 65 to 95 decibels, leaf blowers and car horns 110 decibels, and chain saws 120 decibels.

Bill Wood of American Motorcyclist Magazine agrees that noise ordinances are not a problem, but they should be applied fairly to all sources or noise, and not just aimed at certain groups.

Source: Charisse Jones, "Hey, Suburbanites: Keep it Down!" USA Today, August 2, 2004.

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