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Roadway noise increases with vehicle speed

October 22, 2011
By DAVE WERNER ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

"Noise" is defined as unpleasant sound. Roadway noise is the collective sound energy emanating from motor vehicles. In the US, it contributes more to environmental noise exposure than any other source, and consists of engine, tire, aerodynamic and braking elements. A significant factor contributing to roadway noise is the speed of the vehicles. Sound energy roughly doubles for each increment of 10 miles an hour in vehicle velocity.

How does this adversely affect the quality of life in our communities? Since access to and from villages in Upstate New York are state highways, motorists entering and leaving are generally coming from a 55 mph road into a relatively low speed limit of 30 mph, or accelerating to get to the permissible 55 mph as they leave. Studies have proven that speeds entering and departing our communities are significantly higher than the posted speed limits as traffic enters and departs.

A study by the state Department of Transportation in August 2010, was taken about 300 feet within the Village of Malone on Franklin Street, which is state route 11B, and where the posted speed limit is 30 mph. This study found that the average speed of traffic entering the village was 37 mph, and for traffic departing the village was 40 mph (see the previous "Did You Know" article titled "Traffic Counters Do More Than Count Vehicles," released in May 2011). If, as previously noted, vehicle noise level doubles for each 10 mile per hour increase in vehicle speed, then the noise level at this location is nearly double what it would be if the vehicles were traveling at the posted speed limit.

Throw into the mix that nearly 10 percent of the vehicles were heavy trucks and buses and that most vehicles were accelerating in the departing direction or braking (including engine brakes on large vehicles) on entering the village, the noise levels are significantly adversely affected.

Is there any hope that this problem can be addressed? Probably not much. Drivers are not aware of the noise their vehicles create nor would it be of concern to them.

So, do you want to buy my house? I live on Franklin Street where the traffic study was taken. Or, maybe I'll just get some ear muffs.


Dave Werner can be reached at



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