Road Traffic Noise: Losing the Fight?

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Brown, Lex
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D.J. Mee, R.J. Hooker, I.D.M. Hillock

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Gold Coast


In 1986, the OECD produced “Fighting Noise: Strengthening Noise Abatement Policies” [1] and, less than a decade later, “Fighting Noise in the 1990s ” [2]. More recently, the Australian Academy of Sciences used a similar title [3] – all dealing with the management of environmental noise. These titles clearly signaled resolve to tackle the issues of environmental noise, including the focus of this paper, road traffic noise, and one would have hoped that, now a decade or two down the track, we could report good progress. But, even in Australia, where we have had environmental noise legislation for over 30 years; Environmental Protection Agencies or equivalent in each state; a highly competent skill and knowledge base with respect to road traffic noise; noise control as an integral component of new roadway design – we are losing the fight against road traffic noise. This paper demonstrates that we have a major problem in Australian cities of exposure to high levels of road traffic, and that this situation will continue into the future, if not deteriorate. The paper examines why this is so, and speculates that significant change at policy level will be required to address this problem. This will require recognising that engineering noise control approaches to road traffic noise have failed to reduce overall urban exposure and cannot be relied upon to do so in the future. New concepts such as soundscapes, where several professional areas work together to define and implement desirable acoustic environments, warrant experimentation.

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Acoustics 2004: Transportation Noise and Vibration - The New Millenium

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© 2004 Australian Acoustical Society. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the conference's website for access to the definitive, published version.

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