Motorcycle Accident Lawyers: Motorcycle Noise or Music?

Motorcycle noise is one issue that continues to stir debate within the biking community. Proponents state, “Loud pipes save lives” while opponents, including the noise control coalition, Noise Off, have stated this is a myth and with no studies to prove it. Noise Off points out that noise from a motorcycle’s exhaust system comes from the rear, so it does nothing to alert oncoming drivers of a motorcyclist’s presence.

Recently, the New Hampshire House passed a bill, which would reduce the state’s current motorcycle noise cap. According to a CBS Boston article, the new Society of Automotive Engineers International (SAE) J2825 testing process, also used in Maine, would lower the current motorcycle noise cap of 106 decibels. If enacted, this law would limit motorcycle noise to 92 decibels during idle and, depending upon the motorcycle engine type, to 96 or 100 decibels while revving the engine. The new test is reportedly more accurate and easier for law enforcement to administer than the motorcycle noise test currently being used by the state.
Absent, modified, or altered motorcycle exhaust systems are often the cause of excessive motorcycle noise – bikers often change out EPA approved factory mufflers for noisy aftermarket exhaust systems. To counter this, many states including California, New York, Wisconsin, and Florida have banned modifications that increase motorcycle sound levels above the manufacturer’s original standard such as cutouts, bypasses, and aftermarket exhaust systems. Back in 2010, California passed a Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act (SB 435). California’s act applies to 2013 and later model year motorcycles and aftermarket parts. This would allow police and other law enforcement officials to issue citations for noisy motorcycle exhaust pipes to California motorcyclists who have been stopped for another traffic violation. Violation of California’s new Motorcycle Anti-Tampering Act would result in fines ranging from $50 to $250.
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is strongly opposed to excessive motorcycle noise. With the belief that excessive motorcycle noise contributes to prejudice against bikers, the AMA encourages bikers to be considerate of others in their community and keep bike noise to a minimum. The AMA believes the motorcycle industry should focus on educating motorcycle customers and riders about the negative effects of excessive motorcycle noise, including fatigue and impairment of riding skills.

Yet there are many in the motorcycling community who believe that “loud pipes save lives”. Proponents argue that noisy mufflers continue to alert other drivers, pedestrians, and even animals of their presence on the road. This alone can save lives and help prevent devastating motorcycle accidents from occurring. If another driver begins to drift into your lane unexpectedly, a quick rap on the pipes can alert them to your presence. This is especially helpful in urban settings and in situations where drivers are too busy talking on their cellphones.
At Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys®, we understand the issues facing motorcyclists everywhere—and we want to know what you think. Do loud pipes save lives or do you believe mufflers should be silenced? Make your voice heard!