New rules would reduce noise from cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles

The Dirección General de la Policía de Tránsito will have new rules after Oct. 23 to crack down on loud vehicles.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes issued a decree that was published Thursday in the La Gaceta official newspaper. The decree sets new, lower standards for vehicle noise.

Although the cuts in the legal noise level are just four to six decibels, the scale is logarithmic, so every 10-point increase is a doubling of the sound.

The ministry said that the scale to be used by police also will be used at vehicle inspections.

The ministry said that there will be five standards when the regulations go into effect in October, six months after publication. A new category for light trucks and microbuses has been created.

Nearly all the new standards are above 93 decibels, the point that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says can cause hearing loss.

Automobiles which now have a maximum of 96 decibels will have a new top standard of 90 decibels.

The Centers said that a power lawn mower or a hair dryer can generate sounds of about 90 decibels. Downtown traffic can be a continual 93 decibels.

The Centers said that an impact wrench generates a sound of about 103 decibels and that a chain saw can reach 110 decibels. An ambulance siren can be 120 decibels and a jet
engine at takeoff can reach 140 decibels, said the Centers.
Spectators at rock concerts can sometimes experience sounds of up to 150 decibels.

To measure the levels, traffic police have some 23 devices now. The ministry said that the number will be doubled, but each device costs far more than the Radio Shack variety. They can be $6,000 or more each.

The penalty for exceeding the sound maximum is 21,963.90 colons, said the ministry. That’s about $42.

Some expats who live near downgrades have been complaining for years about the sounds emitted by heavy trucks and their jake breaks. Such sounds probably exceed the maximums now, so time will tell how consistent enforcement will be after Oct. 23.

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