Mobile noise pollution is poising more of a problem to the public as time goes by – and booming your car stereo can result in cautions and warnings to considerable fines and even having your vehicle seized by authorities.
The issues most victims of excessive car noise pollution experience are vast and varied – crucially, it can impact their quality of life in their homes and cause stress, anxiety and irritation, as revealed through a study on noise nuisance in 2008.
Though it is not strictly illegal to play loud music in your car, it can be considered more of a moral obligation to those around you to avoid causing inconvenience or disruption with your loud radio ruckus.
In this article, we’ll discuss the consequences of playing loud music in vehicles and the best way to stop loud music from cars.
Table of Contents
Legal: Is playing loud music in a car illegal?
It is difficult to police noisy cars because it is not illegal to own a car stereo – and because most cars are designed to contain them, the problems with volume are mostly subjective and difficult to address, given that a lot of reports are isolated incidents with licence plates going un-noted.
Although it stands to reason that driving in residential areas late at night with pounding music could cause disturbance to homeowners, there are other factors to consider which could lead to much more serious – sometimes even lethal – consequences.
Quick Fact: Most modern car stereos can project sound at around 100 decibels – for comparison, this is the same as a jet taking off or a close-range power saw in action
In the United States, there are no countrywide laws regarding playing loud music from your automobile; the laws and regulations vary from state to state. The best way is just to Google it, but each state does things differently.
For example, in Florida, car audio should not be audible from more than 25 feet away, whereas, in New York it’s a bit more technical, with car audio being no louder than the 15 Decibels at 15 feet away.
In the United Kingdom, under rule 148 of the highway code, playing loud music, inserting CD or tunning your stereo is classed as a distraction and could lead to £100 and three penalty points.
In extreme scenarios, where your actions of playing music while driving were so dangerous, you could be given a £5,000 fine and even a driving ban, although this is rare.
What about stationary vehicles? Well, the laws are not as simple. Generally, a warning would be issued by the police as a first step.
Dangers Of Driving With Loud Music:
Very rarely do motorists realise the impact volume has on their ability to drive safely.
Loud music can serve as a distraction – turning your volume up temporarily draws your eyes away from the road, and blaring fast-paced songs subconsciously causes you to accelerate. Despite the volume of your music not being instantly actionable by police, the resulting speeding violations certainly are.
Teen Drivers and young adults are particularly vulnerable and at risk of “tuning out” driving while listening to loud music. A study found when listening to their own music, “Young-novice drivers” inhibited dangerous driving manoeuvres, including speeding, aggression, and weaving.
“Young-novice drivers remain more prone to distraction as they are less efficient in processing visual information needed to drive safely while engaging in other non-driving tasks – such as music listening” – Brodsky and Slor.
Loud music can also drown out surrounding noise which is essential to hear, such as the sirens of emergency vehicles or the warning of car horns of other road users, ultimately putting you – and them – at risk.
It is also important to note that police can prosecute for traffic violations such as reckless/dangerous driving, as well as driving without due care and attention – which could, in turn, be contributed to by your driving disco. Repeat convictions of this nature can lead to losing your driving licence and your car, to boot.
You may not often get the opportunity to unwind to some of your favourite music outside of your daily car journeys. Still, it’s important to be a considerate driver and focus on the task at hand – getting from A to B safely.
A boom car is a vehicle that has car audio equipment specially designed to play music at definitely high levels. Some people even take it so seriously that they hold competitions something like this!:
If this is what you like we have an article on the best car stereo sound setting, although it should sound much better than that!
Solutions to Stop Loud Music from Cars – Turning it Down?
Ensuring that you can hear the roads outside of your hit singles is key – and bear in mind others might not have the same music taste as you do! Keep windows closed and be aware of your surroundings – if you’re keeping people from their sleep late at night or early in the morning, expect to be reported sooner or later.
If you are a suffering resident because of repeat offenders of noisy driving, persistence is crucial. Authorities are more likely to step in and take action if they receive numerous complaints about the same inconsiderate road user – get your neighbours on board, too!
The baton of responsibility can often be handed between law enforcement and local councils about vehicular noise issues. Still, harsher penalties and increasing awareness on the impact on the health and happiness of communities is resulting in things changing for the better.
Ultimately, the most effective way, where possible, is always to try and resolve the issue yourself by talking and discussing the issue without getting third party organisations and government bodies involved. This should only be called upon as a last resort.
- Talk to them – While this can be easier said than done, it’s often the quickest way to resolve the noise complaint. In a calm and understanding manner, try to discuss the issue with the driver and explain that the noise level is unacceptable for you and why it’s disrupting you.
- Wait – If the noise is a one-off and you don’t want to cause confrontation, it might be best to wait for the driver(s) to leave. However, if it’s not a persistent occurrence, this could be your best bet.
- Contact Police or Local Council / State Department – As we’ve discussed, this would only be done as a last resort, but you should contact the relevant government body if the issue persists or is extreme. We detail this in the following sections for both the United States and the United Kingdom. If you live elsewhere, the steps and points of contact will be similar.
Solutions: United States
In the United States, there are various solutions when you’ve exhausted direct action with the person(s) causing the noise from the car. The first option could be to contact law enforcement at 911 if it’s an emergency, but generally, you should submit a report through your local police departments website if your has a section for you to do this.
For example, the NYPD has a complaints portal for noise complaints. In New York, it is only an offence if car audio is louder than the 15 Decibels at 15 feet away, though.
Solutions: United Kingdom
As we’ve discussed, there are multiple avenues for reporting nuisance noise complaints, but the two main options will be with the police and or your local council.
Reporting via the Police
Reporting to the police should only be done in extreme situations where the loud noise from the vehicles is causing alarm and distress, and the action is taking place when you report it. Only in emergencies, you should contact the police at 999 alternatively for non-emergencies, contact the police via 101 or on the online reporting portal at Police.UK.
Reporting via the Local Council
For long-standing disputes and noise complaints, you should contact your local health department at your local council. Each council will have an environmental problems team that should look into the problem for you and help you resolve it where possible. For instance, in Great Manchester, you can report it here.
For all other councils, visit the government portal, where you’ll be redirected to your local council’s website.
TIP: When reporting a noise complaint, especially when the issue is not in a physical property or location but from the road or vehicle, you should gather as much evidence as possible. This could include exact time and date, vehicle number plates and videos where possible.