Sunday, August 23, 2009

Boom Boom Cars

My modest gear
Not exactly a subwoofer

Do you live on the other side of the road? It won’t make a bit of difference, because you will have to suffer the subwoofer booming noises from the 1000w Sony Xplod P5 series or similar loudspeakers fitted to the car of some extrovert who wants to share his favourite noise, not just with his neighbours as he passes through, but with strangers more than a mile away! He thinks he’s the most popular guy on the street and believes he’s sure to impress his girlfriends. What he doesn’t realise is that he’ll be deaf before he’s forty, and those who are foolish enough to share his company in his Boom Boom Machine will also be deaf with him.

This form of extroverted conduct is classified as ‘anti-social behaviour’ and the Police have powers of arrest and confiscation of equipment from persistent offenders. In June of this year the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary embarked on a region-wide scheme to address the problem of noisy vehicles. Plymouth Police use sound measuring equipment to monitor decibels emitted from stereo systems and they have been using these devices in targeted areas such as West Hoe, the Hoe and the Barbican.

Subwoofer speakers produce sound pressure levels and infrasonic waves that truly vibrate anything nearby. I know, because when my car was behind a Boom Boom Car it really shook and the skin on my body rippled! This sort of exhibitionist behaviour has been described as ‘passive aggression’, but there’s nothing passive about it. Fortunately we are way behind the US, because there, the competitive spirit reigns, and a subculture exists known as ‘booming’. The booming buddies arrange ‘sound pressure level’ (SPL) competitions, also known as ‘dB drag racing’. These are held nationwide, and at their meetings, manufacturers promote brands and equiment, while installers publicise their businesses. The trade amounts to millions of dollars.

Here in the UK, legislation* exists to clamp down on the ‘boy racer boomer’ or individual who seeks respect from his peers by making the loudest noise with the most expensive subwoofers, but has little respect for the majority of law-abiding citizens who don’t share their lack of consideration and lack of taste. The difficulty arises in catching the perpetrators by virtue of their mobility.

* Police Reform Act 2002: local police forces may serve anti-social behaviour
orders that can impose bans from certain roads, and there are even confiscation powers over vehicle owners in more serious cases.
The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986: Regulation 97
states that,” no motor vehicle shall be used on a road in such a manner as to cause any
excessive noise which could have been avoided by the exercise of reasonable
care on the part of the driver".

On-road enforcement is by the police.

Environmental Protection Act 1990: under Section 79, as amended by the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993, loud music from stationary vehicles may also be defined as a statutory nuisance. Environmental health officers, therefore, have powers to serve abatement notices during these incidents. Failure to comply can lead to fines and confiscation of equipment.
As set out in Chapter 7 of the Respect Action Plan, the Government are also considering how law enforcement methods for such offences can be improved."

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