This is late, but I just wanted to talk about the recent ‘Muffler Act of 2016’, which has been reported by the excellent local website Yugatech.

One of the commenters posted an interesting ‘Noise Level Chart‘, which compares the dB levels to examples like home and yard appliances. In it, we note that the 70db limit in the Muffler Act is comparable to the sound of a Shower or a Dishwasher.

2016 Muffler Act

This has led me to research the issue more, and here’s what I came up with. I start with my thoughts, followed by the full text of the Act itself, and finally, the dbA levels allowed in other countries.

Here’s My Four Thoughts On The Muffler Act:

  1. I am assuming the 70dB limit is AT IDLE, or in other words, the engine is running, the vehicle is stationary, and it is not being ‘revved’. This needs to be mentioned in the law.
  2. As stated in one of the better comments on Yugatech, 70db is approximately the sound a dishwasher makes, or a shower. I have to say, that’s ok with me. I don’t think any of the new sub 200cc motorcycles makes more than 70db at idle, and those vehicles are the bulk of the traffic. Larger displacement motorcycles ie. the Harleys, Indians and Ducatis, however, are another matter. Those bikes ARE LOUD.
  3. Additionally, there should probably also be a dB limit while being revved, either at 2000 or 3000 RPM. I think the other countries include this, so it might by a simple matter of copying what they do.
  4. This law mentions that you cannot operate a vehicle that does not have a muffler AND a modified muffler that makes it noisier than it normally is. However, this is already mentioned in Republic Act 4136 (AN ACT TO COMPILE THE LAWS RELATIVE TO LAND TRANSPORTATION AND TRAFFIC RULES, TO CREATE A LAND TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES), which in Article IV (Accessories of Motor Vehicles) Section J, it states “(j) Mufflers. – Every motor vehicle propelled by an internal combustion engine shall be equipped with a muffler, and whenever said motor vehicle passes through a street of any city, municipality, or thickly populated district or barrio, the muffler shall not be cut out or disconnected. No motor vehicle shall be operated in such a manner as to cause it to emit or make any unnecessary or disagreeable odor, smoke or noise.” In other words, Gatchalian’s law may be deemed unnecessary, because there is already a law that states this.

So here’s Senator Gatchalian’s 2016 Muffler Act in full, from the Senate website.

Text:

SEVENTEENTH CONGRESS OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
First Regular Session
S.B. No. SENATE 1195

BILLS & Introduced by SEN. WIN GATCHALIAN

AN ACT PROHIBITING THE USE OF MOTOR VEHICLES WITHOUT MUFFLERS OR THOSE THAT ARE DEFECTIVE OR HAVE BEEN MODIFIED WHICH INCREASE THE SOUND EMITTED BY MOTOR VEHICLES, PENALIZING OWNERS AND DRIVERS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO NOISE POLLUTION IN THE ENVIRONMENT

EXPLANATORY NOTE
Now that the traffic in Metro Manila, has already necessitated the call for an emergency power exercise, the concomitant noise emitted by motor vehicles just adds to the ordeal that our citizens has to go through every day. The steady increase of our population continues to trigger the environmental hazards of pollution, sad to say that the plague of “noise pollution” has never had any definite national policy nor regulation for control. Lumped in the general concept of air pollution, the dangers of noise pollution has been ignored or underestimated.

A World Health Organization (WHO) report has suggested that noise – defined as an “unwanted sound” can affect human health and well-being, including annoyance reaction, sleep disturbance, interference with communication, performance effects, and effects on social behavior. It further states that exposure to noise levels at or above 80 decibels has been medically proven to cause permanent hearing loss. This exposure to noise has also been associated with changes in blood pressure, other cardiovascular changes, problems with the digestive system and general fatigue.

According to a study conducted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the growing noise pollution can be attributed to a large part from the millions of twowheeled vehicles thundering through our streets and neighborhoods. The study goes to show that the tailpipe noise emitted by tricycles produce noise levels as high as 97 decibels, way too loud for the national standard of 60 decibels during da5dime and 50 decibels during nighttime in a residential area.

Motor vehicles with modified mufflers are very distracting and can cause accidents since they overpower traffic sounds such as automobile horns and traffic enforcer whistles. Further, loud muffler noise agitate drivers as it affects hearing, vision, reaction time and judgment thereby increasing the risk of danger for everyone on the road.

This bill seeks to regulate the use of mufflers, those that are missing, defective and their modifications that increases the sound emitted by a motor vehicles, contributing to noise pollution, penalizing owners and drivers that contribute to the sound that exacerbate noise pollution to our environment.

In view of the foregoing, passage of this legislation is earnestly sought.

GATCHALIAN
SEVENTEENTH CONGRESS OF THE
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES
First Regular Session
S.B. No. SENATE 1195 BILLS
Introduced by SEN. WIN GATCHALIAN

AN ACT PROHIBITING THE USE OF MOTOR VEHICLES WITHOUT MUFFLERS OR THOSE THAT ARE DEFECTIVE OR HAVE BEEN MODIFIED WHICH INCREASE THE SOUND EMITTED BY MOTOR VEHICLES, PENALIZING OWNERS AND DRIVERS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO NOISE POLLUTION IN THE ENVIRONMENT

Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled:

SECTION 1. Short Title. This act shall be known as “Muffler Act of 2016″.
SEC. 2. Deflnition of Terms:

a. Decibel – refers to a measure of sound level and is equal to 10 times the logarithim of the square of a measured sound pressure level (SPL) divided by a reference sound pressure.

b. Emission – refers to any measurable air contaminant, pollutant, gas stream or unwanted sound from a known source which is passed into the atmosphere.

c. Motorcycle – refers to any two-wheeled motor vehicle with at least one headlight, taillight and stoplight, and one or more saddle seats. For purposes of this Act, the term shall likewise include motorcycles to which are attached cars, commonly known as “tricycles”.

d. Motor Vehicle – refers to any vehicle propelled by gasoline engine or by any means other than human or animal power constructed and operated principally for the conveyance of persons or the transportation of goods in a public highway or street open for public use.

e. Muffler – refers to a device that reduces the noise from the exhaust of an internal combustion engine.

f. Modified Muffler – refers to a devise attached to a motor vehicle on which a sound booster and other sound emitting devise is installed in order to increase noise and for other purposes.

g. Noise – refers to any unnecessary, erratic, discordant loud or blaring sound which annoy, disturb, distract or offend the senses

h. Noise Pollution – refers to the emission of loud, excessive, disturbing, unhealthy sound amplification devices or equipment and/or other sources of sound such as, but not limited to commercial, industrial and construction activities, vehicle exhaust, mufflers, animal noise, and noise produced by human beings such as loud conversation and laughter and found to exceed the normal allowable decibel ratio.

i. Nuisance – refers to anything that injures health, endangers life, offends the senses or produces discomfort to the community.

j. Unnecessary Noise – refers to any unusually loud sound that annoys, disturbs, or endangers the health, peace, safety and comfort of a person or causes injury or harm to human beings and animals alike.

SEC. 3. Declaration of Policy. – The protection of the health and well-being of the members of the community should be the primordial concern of our society, hence, it is imperative that rules are laid down and observed to protect them from the dangers of prolonged exposure to noise pollution by unregulated use of motor vehicles which by reason of lack of maintenance, deliberate tampering or inappropriate use, has missing, defective, or modified mufflers emitting loud and unnecessary noise disturbing the peace and harmony of nature.

Acts that endanger the environment from further degradation and those that are discordant with a balanced and healthful development should be controlled and abated. Operators and owners of motor vehicles should be made responsible for ensuring that noise from their vehicles is kept within reasonable levels.

SEC. 4. Mufflers and Noise Controlling Devices. – No motor vehicles shall be allowed to be driven or operated without having been properly equipped, at all times, with either a muffler or any noise dissipative device in constant operation and of sufficient capacity to its motor engine to prevent the escape of excessive and disturbing noise.

Noise control should include both the exhaust system and engine components of a motor vehicle.

SEC. 5. Modified and Defective Muffler. – No motor vehicle, motorcycle, motorbike, scooter, tricycle whether for private or public use shall likewise use any modified muffler, sound booster or any device that will increase the noise of said vehicle or emit a sound of more than seventy (70) decibels.

Any owner or operator of a motor vehicle who has caused or permitted a vehicle to be used when its muffler or noise control equipment is defective or not securely in place shall likewise be liable under this Act.

SEC. 6. Reasonable Level/Decibel Standard, – Exhaust noise should not 18 exceed the maximum prescribed level of seventy (70) decibels.

SEC. 7. Exception. – Motor vehicles not utilized for transport of goods and people but are merely used for sports competition, motor shows and similar endeavors are hereby exempted from this Act.

SEC. 8. Noise Pollution Emission Testing. – The Land Transportation Office (LTO) shall conduct noise pollution testing upon and during yearly registration of all motor vehicles in the country. It shall equip its registration centers with testing meters to measure the vehicle’s noise standard of a maximum of seventy (70) decibels.

Registration shall be held in abeyance pending compliance with the standard decibel requirement.

SEC- 9. Penalties. – Any person who drives a motor vehicle without a muffler, a defective or modified muffler, sound booster or any device that will increase the noise of said vehicle or emit a sound of more than seventy (70) decibels shall be penalized as follows;

a. For the first offense, a fine of five thousand pesos (P5,000.00) and confiscation of the modified muffler or sound booster;

b. For the second offense, a fine of ten thousand pesos (P10,000.00) and impoundment of the motor vehicle for a period of one (1) month;

c. For succeeding offenses, a fine of fifteen thousand pesos (P15,000.00) and suspension of the driver’s license of the violator for six (6) months.

SEC. 10. Implementing Agency.-The Land Transportation Office (LTO) shall be the lead government agency in implementing the provisions of this Act. Provided, that the LTO may deputize the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) agents, local public safety and other officers of the LGU to assist in the implementation of this Act.

LTO officers, MMDA agents, and local public safety and order officers, shall be equipped with a decibel meter to effectively gauge the intensity of loudness of a motor vehicle.

SEC. 11. Appropriations. – The amount needed for the initial implementation of this Act shall be charged against the current year’s appropriations of the LTO. Thereafter, such amount as may be necessary for the continued implementation of this Act shall be included in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

SEC. 12. Implementing Rules and Regulations. – Within ninety (90) days upon the approval of this Act, the DOTr shall, in consultation with the various stakeholders, formulate the rules and regulations necessary for the proper implementation of this Act.

SEC. 13. Separability Clause. – If any part, section or provision of this Act is declared invalid or unconstitutional, the other parts thereof, not affected thereby shall remain in full force and effect.

SEC. 14. Repealing Clause. – All laws, acts, presidential decrees, executive orders, administrative orders, rules and regulations, or parts thereof, inconsistent with or contrary to the provisions of this Act are hereby amended, modified or repealed accordingly.

SEC. 15. Effectivity – This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) days after its publication in the Official Gazette or in at least two (2) newspapers of general circulation.

And here’s a result of a quick Google search for noise limits in other countries:

  • The UK: As per the UK Vehicle Type Approval website, the current limit is 74dB since 1996. Many vehicles produce lower levels of noise, and it is illegal to modify the exhaust system of a vehicle to make it noisier than the level recorded for that model at type approval.
  • The US: In California at least, Californiacarlaws.com states their limit at 95dbA or less. However, it also says ‘No person shall modify the exhaust system of a motor vehicle in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the motor of the vehicle so that the vehicle is not in compliance .. or exceeds the noise limits established for the type of vehicle‘, which essentially means you cannot make a car noisier than when it was new.
  • In Canada: The Edmontonpolice.ca website states their limit at 92dba for all motorcycles at idle. But it also states that, similar to the California laws, you may not modify your new vehicle to produce more noise than it did when it was new.