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European Commission - Press release

Vehicle noise to be reduced

Brussels, 9 December 2011. The European Commission proposed today to reduce noise produced by cars, vans, buses, coaches, light and heavy trucks. Noise limit values would be lowered in two steps of each 2 dB(A) for passenger cars, vans, buses and coaches. For trucks the reduction would be 1 dB(A) in the first step and 2 dB(A) in the second step. The first step is to apply two years after the publication of the text once approved by the EP and Member States and the second step is foreseen three years thereafter. Altogether, these measures will reduce vehicle noise nuisance by some 25%. In addition, the Commission intends to introduce a new and more reliable test method to measure sound emissions. Moreover it is proposed that electric and hybrid electric vehicles can be fitted optionally with sound generating devices which would make these cars safer. Noise emissions limits have not changed since 1996 despite increasing traffic.

The World Health Organisation concluded that traffic related noise may account for 1 million healthy years of life lost per year in Western Europe. Hence, reduction of traffic noise is essential to improve the health and quality of life of Europe's citizens.

Today’s proposal will significantly reduce the levels of environmental noise and consequently the number of people affected by it.

Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for Industry and Entrepreneurship said: "Noise emissions due to road traffic, from which our citizens are suffering, will be significantly reduced. Our proposal will lead to quieter motor vehicles on our roads and a healthier environment. Our proposal will also make international rules for industry clearer, so it will be easier for European manufacturers to sell cars outside the EU”.


New noise limits measured with a new test method

The proposal on reducing vehicle noise includes passenger cars, vans (light commercial vehicles), buses, light trucks, coaches and heavy trucks. It will ensure that the noise levels of new vehicles will be measured by a new and more reliable test method.

To this end, so-called additional sound emission provisions (ASEP) will be included. These are preventive requirements which will ensure that the sound emissions of a vehicle under street driving conditions will not differ significantly from what can be expected from the type-approval test result for this specific vehicle.

Electric and hybrid electric vehicles

So-called 'Approaching Vehicle Audible Systems' requirements shall ensure that only adequate sound generating devices are used which will also lead to a harmonisation of the applied technology. The fitting as such would remain an option for the vehicle manufacturer. This will increase road safety and undoubtedly help avoiding road-accident injuries.

A global benefit

Having the same basic rules throughout the EU makes it easier to buy, sell and use vehicles in any Member State – and ensures equal health, safety and environmental standards across the EU.

With this proposal the current EU rules applicable to noise emissions from vehicles will be updated and further aligned with internationally recognised UN standards. This should enable to improve market access for European car manufacturers in those third countries which are contracting parties to the UNECE Agreement of 1958 and thus boost the competitiveness of European industry.

The proposal of the European Commission is now to be submitted to the European co-legislators, the European Parliament and to the Council.

More information on:

  • Noise emissions of motor vehicles:

  • The European Commission's automotive policy:

Contacts :

Carlo Corazza +32 2 295 17 52

Sara Tironi +32 2 29 90 403

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