Lack of Mufflers

Automobile MufflerThere sometimes seem to be two types of people when it comes to the sounds emitted by vehicle exhaust systems: those who hate it and those who try to balance calling attention to themselves yet not provoke a response from traffic law enforcement.

Why don't the police do anything about noisy exhaust systems? Let's take a quick look at this accusation and see if it has merit. In 2019, the last year ICBC has published traffic ticket statistics for, police issued the following:

Violation Law Number of Tickets Sanction
Inadequate Muffler 7.03 MVAR 22 $109, no points, no record
Unnecessary Noise 7A.01 MVAR 800 $109, 3 points, record entry
Defective Vehicle 219 (1) MVA 3,500 $109, no points, record entry

The last category, Defective Vehicle, includes all types of vehicle equipment violations, not just those related to the exhaust system. It is up to the officer to choose which section to write the violation under.

So, some enforcement is taking place. Keep in mind that no matter how irritated you might be, this noise is a nuisance rather than a safety hazard. Given a choice between the two, the safety related violations must be a priority for enforcement.

There are exhaust system standards to follow and they are set out in paragraphs 22 and 27 of the Schedule to Division 7, MVAR.

Decibel limits are prescribed, but the standard is for testing in an inspection station and the police are working at the roadside, most often without the benefit of a measuring device.

When a decibel meter is not available to take the measurements to see if a vehicle complies, the opinion of an officer as to whether the engine and exhaust noise is "greater than that made by other vehicles in good condition of comparable size, horsepower, piston displacement or compression ratio shall determine whether exhaust gases are expelled with excessive noise."

It's not simply a matter of writing a ticket and carrying on with the patrol. Officers must be prepared to justify everything that they write in traffic court.

In my experience, a conviction for not having a muffler at all is difficult to obtain, and an unnecessary noise conviction based on the opinion of an officer is very unlikely. I have never had a civilian witness available to give evidence, and perhaps that is what is missing for a conviction.

The outcome of a trial can be mixed.

At the conclusion of one, the presiding Justice of the Peace found the driver guilty and commented "You are not a criminal, you are nothing but a social pest!"

On the other hand, I also saw a provincial court judge dismiss a ticket where the motorcycle involved was equipped with straight pipes, no muffler at all. He acquitted the motorcyclist because he felt that it simply wasn't a matter that was important enough to be tried in his court.

Another avenue for enforcement to consider is the use of a Notice & Order #2. Designated Inspection Facilities are required to have a decibel meter and use it as part of an inspection. Inspectors will also insure that all of the necessary exhaust components are installed and functional.

There are significant penalties for ignoring the order and it will also discover and require the repair of any other safety defects that might be present.

It's a tough one. The Harley motorcycle's just make too much noise - when accelerating, of course. We were on the sidewalk outside of a resturant the other evening, enjoying the warm evening, and a Harley goes up the mild-sloped street. We had to stop talking, and a couple of us put our hands over our ears. The noise is too loud, no question about it. I know there is a 'threshold' of sound (xx decibels) that is too much in our society. Harleys go over this -- when accelerating.

As for the "Motorcycles have to be loud so they send out a notice that they are around" argument, that's ridiculous! Maybe bicycles should have constant horns blaring? If you want to be heard, there is a horn.

Well if you can't fight them, maybe I should get into the act, buy a Harley, black leather jacket, and drive up and down the streets with lots of jerked throttle - "Sorry neighbours! I can do this because there is no enforcement!"

This judge is more than welcome to spend a summer Saturday on our back porch, trying to enjoy a relaxing day. The deliberate  revving of  motorcycles racing away from a local park is deafening. The police and CC's felt it was important enough to bring to trial.

Makes one wonder about the judge's actual motivation.

It really is too bad our Province hasn't stood up and proclaimed the excessive noise from straight or very little muffled pipes is not only an issue of destruction, disturbance, and willfully destroying the peace and harmony of the local citizenry.  Cities throughout North America have taken this on and prohibited the senseless unabated excessive noise from motorcycles, most notably the dinosaurs of them all, the Harley Davidson.  Isn't it time our province took a stand on this?

It shouldn't be up to the Peace Officer, be they RCMP or otherwise, and the courts. That is all subjective, and I concur, it is a waste of court time (unless the perps are cited more than once. It then becomes a very good learning moment that other people exist and that they do not appreciate the blatant useless noise).

The excuse that the Officer didn't have a Decibel measuring instrument is lame. They are  available for purchase on the Net.

The noise has been cited as a Mental Health issue, for those accosted daily by it, some more medically serious than others.

Ditto to the safety side of things: if they are so noisy, it has the potential for over- frequencing other sounds, those of following traffic, such as Sirens, Fire trucks, Ambulance, Pedestrians in jeopardy...

The old knuckleheaded adage of 'loud pipes save lives' is patently false; should, if it were true then, all others be as noisy?

In this area, the West Kootenay, plenty of Motorcycles travel through here in the riding months. Very few are quiet, modern, safe ones, but those that are, get a kindly wave; those that are not, get the bird. It doesn't need to be this way.  And plenty of people in this area have signed the petition asking for the Province to look after the teaching moment.

Alas, it fell on deaf ears. Advocate for change, don't just roll over and be apathetic.

What I find a further nuisance, are those drivers who drown out others with, very loud speakers thumping. I wonder how they can hear emergency vehicles?

Yes, I agree that some Harley owners are hung up on their image of attention to making noise. Same with these big Dodge Diesels, associated with Alberta oil. Some are " coal rollers" with intentional black smoke choking all behind. I think those folks are the worst on the roads. I wonder if they ever get pulled over.

In the old days, RCMP officers had more time to deal with noisy exhaust. Tickets were issued and a cars were subjected to an ear test. It was not difficult to pass the test. Stuff the exhaust pipes with steel,wool , drill a hole, stick in nail and pass the test. Take it easy after that.

Nobody in the past days of environmental ignorance, was as ignorant as the Dodge Diesels who roll coal today. Okay, some Fords and Chevs.

The height of ignorance, well beyond those subtle Harley owners who only make noise

It would be interesting to see:

  • How many of the tickets were issued by AVI’s (Area Vehicle Inspectors aka CVSE) as opposed to police officers (and do they have a similar dispute or conviction rate).
  • How many were issued to motorcyclists as opposed to car or truck drivers.

It has long been the contention of the motorcycling community that we are disproportionally targeted for noise violations.

Given that motorcycles make up less than 5% of the vehicle population (ICBC Quick Statistics for the Media Manual) and the number of cars I see with exhausts large enough I could stick my leg down them (and the Mack farm truck in Ladner that goes everywhere with his compression brake on. Not a lot of hills in Ladner) I would be concerned if the number of tickets to motorcyclists exceeded 5%.

We still live on the corner where the traffic has increased in the last 40+ years at least a 100 fold due to the 40+ wineries between us and Naramata and the multi million dollar homes that have sprung up in the Naramata area.

Between the straight pipes on diesel trucks and Harleys the noise is sometimes unbearable even though I am mostly deaf in my left ear. The noise from some of the bikes is so bad sometimes that it hurts my ears if I am anywhere near the front part of our property. I noted that you stated that a judge had throw out a case of straight pipes from his court. I wonder if he was to constantly witness loud traffic like this in his neighborhood if he would change his thinking.

Regarding loud mufflers or straight pipe noise is a violation of the noise bylaw in most cities, so a city bylaw officer should be able to ticket a person who’s vehicle is over the decibel limit, not just the RCMP or city police.

Secondly, I would like to see Automotive testing stations brought back whereas your vehicle is called once a year.

Regarding loud mufflers or straight pipe noise is a violation of the noise bylaw in most cities, so a city bylaw officer should be able to ticket a person who’s vehicle is over the decibel limit, not just the RCMP or city police.

Have you researched whether your local municpality has the facility - i.e. reliable Decibel Meters - to do this? And while you're in touch with the Bylaws Manager, it would be worth enquiring how many tickets they have issued for exessive noise in the last few years.

Possibly, neighbours haven't yet banded together to make their own noise at council meetings, to demand that the bylaws are enforced equably and effectively.

Secondly, I would like to see Automotive testing stations brought back whereas your vehicle is called once a year.

Automotive testing is of course required every six or twelve months for commercial vehicles, as well as used vehicles that are brought into BC (though that's a one-time thing). Meanwhile, I'm not sure if Uber drivers' vehicles are required to meet any minimum standard.

But since the Inspection Facilities got closed in 1984 (many of them converted for a long time to AirCare facilities), the increase in headlight / parking light / turn-signal / brake light failures has increasingly surrounded us.

And the thing is, whether it was Government Inspection requirements or Emissions testing, these places operated on a cost-free basis. There's no reason why that couldn't be a model to re-impose on all vehicles (although the percentage of crashes actually blamed on mechanical defects these days is very minimal). And meanwhile, poorly aimed or non-existent vehicle bulbs - which annoy and confuse other drivers - become ever more common. 

So it would seem fitting for govermental authorities to try to act effectively, and maybe they will have to quit handing out so many parking tickets all the time. 

I traded up last year, a '99 Electraglide to an '04 Ultra Classic.

the '99 had a "Screaming Eagle" stage II package on it, bigger cubic inch displacement, improved/increased fuel injection and lower back pressure exhaust. It was louder, but nothing like a lot of bikes.

Ths '04 is bone stock. Way down on horsepower, and very quiet.

problem is, there is SO much back pressure that there is exhaust escaping from any possible exit upstream from the mufflers. It took a bit to get every clamp and manifold totally leak free. is almost impossible, to sit on that thing in traffic. Seriously. Those pipes are SO friggin hot, that I'm almost bow legged when I get off. I will be putting louder pipes on it for sure. I have no desire to add tinnitus to my list of personal shortcomings, so it will be a trial and error project. My buddy has a gold wing. I didn't even know it was running until he took off. Maybe it's time to trade off this T-Rex.

I'm so tired of hearing riders say "loud pipes save lives". No, defensive driving/riding saves lives. Loud pipes annoy almost everyone that isn't riding and startle most drivers as you pass by, they can't hear you until you are already gone.

If you feel loud pipes announce your approach then you should be required to alter the exhaust to point out the front of the motorcycle, it would look stupid, it would be extremely loud for you as you would be the closest one to it and constantly riding into your own noise and exhaust. Maybe you would finally get the idea that it is a pain for most people to have to put up with every time you crack the throttle.

If anyone has ever been to an airshow, knowing how loud a combat jet is in full afterburner, and been surprised by a sneak pass from behind that you didn't hear coming should realize loud doesn't announce anything in advance.

And yes, I ride.