How roadside noise pollution has an effect on our lives
Background noise goes beyond the issue of traffic noise. It is pervasive, and it can undermine your health as well as your neighbour’s. Image by UltraViolet (via Shutterstock).
In the last week, we have seen how the government has given out mixed messages over environmental concerns. Firstly, the chance to improve our locality’s rail infrastructure has been downgraded. Days after the Tories’ suggested bi-mode trains instead of the full electrification we were promised (and really do need!), they had the brass neck to propose a ban on diesel vehicles by 2040. There’s every chance we’ll still have antiquated bi-mode diesel trains pootling their way from Manchester Victoria. As well as the particulates, the noise pollution from diesel or petrol vehicles is a major concern.
Enough of the politics. Anyone who has lived on the side of a main road would be familiar with the noise. To compensate, noise pollution issues are solved by some households with double or triple glazed windows. If you’re walking along the streets, you will still be affected by traffic noise. Plus, the accumulation of noise can increase stress levels. Which leads to higher obesity levels, higher blood pressure, and a greater chance of heart disease.
Therefore, the engine noise from petrol and diesel vehicles, as well as their particulates is a recipe for disaster. You could have the diesel and petrol fumes choking you whilst being deafened. Traffic noise is also a cause of tinnitus and deafness. We not only suffer the consequences ourselves: it also affects animal behaviour. For example: robins sing louder at night time; zebra finches become less faithful to their partners.
With noise pollution, we are more likely to shut the windows, and less likely to leave the house or workplace. Sometimes, to drown the background noise, we turn to our mobile devices. Through our own playlist we add more background noise, giving our ears a pummelling that way.
Could Michael Gove’s plan to cut diesel and petrol cars have a positive effect on solving noise pollution issues? Possibly, but 2040 might be too late for some commentators. The Guardian, regarding the diesel ban as called it “a beautiful smokescreen”, practically giving the former Education Secretary a “See me” in red pen.
It’s not enough. Whilst companies like ours do their utmost to reduce roadside noise pollution, other more progressive policies are needed. Perhaps electrifying the Transpennine Express route seems like a good plan. Or incentives to encourage a shift in transport modes. That’s another argument for another time, on another blog.