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Letters to the editor

Greg Fulton

I wanted to thank the Vail Town Council and staff for the recent noise demonstration on I-70. As noted in Allen Best’s well-written article, the problem is not one of engine brakes being used but rather a lack of mufflers whether it be trucks, motorcycles, or automobiles.While less than 5 percent of all trucks in the country may operate without a muffler, their impact from a sound perspective can prove substantial as the recent Vail noise test showed. The reason why some truckers choose to remove the muffler varies, with some liking the straight pipe look and sound, while others believe that the lack of a muffler provides more torque, better fuel mileage or increased engine performance. All of the engine performance arguments have been disproven, and the vast majority of trucking companies would not think of operating a truck without a muffler. Toward addressing this problem, our association took the lead several years ago in being the first state in the country to pass legislation which placed a heavy fine on those trucks which are equipped with a jake brake but lack a muffler. The fine assessed on trucking companies operating without a muffler and possessing a jake brake is $500. To ensure the success of this law, we have worked closely with the State Patrol and Ports of Entry, who have aggressively enforced the law. The net result has been a dramatic reduction in the number of trucks operating in this manner. To further reduce the number of trucks operating without mufflers, we have worked with other states in the region for passage of a similar law. Already several states have adopted the measure, making it much more difficult for a truck to travel cross-country without muffler.While we have substantially reduced the problem, our goal is to have all trucks with a jake brake, whether on I-70 or elsewhere in the state, operating with a muffler. We will continue to work to work toward this objective in the years ahead. As the noise test demonstrated, though, loud noise from I-70 is not limited to trucks. Any vehicle – including automobiles, motorcycles and motor homes – that operates without a muffler or a defective muffler may generate noise levels well over 90 decibels. These vehicles, which are aberrations in the traffic flow, serve as noise spikes which are particularly disturbing.Unfortunately, state law is very weak when it comes to muffler violations by other vehicles. While a truck may be cited for a $500 mandatory fine if it does not possess a muffler, the maximum fine for an automobile or motorcycle lacking a muffler is $100 (in most cases the actual fine assessed is much less). This law appears to be rarely enforced and in turn the consequences for noncompliance are minimal.On our part, we believe that the answer is a tougher muffler law for all vehicles. The law should set a stiffer mandatory fine similar to that for trucks for any vehicle without a muffler. Along with the fine should be a requirement that the owner provide proof to law enforcement that they have installed a muffler. On our part we have expressed our support for such legislation if it is brought forward.As we move forward, our association, which represents over 450 companies in Colorado, seeks to continue to work with the town of Vail to make I-70 a safer and more pleasant experience for residents along the corridor, as well as motorists on the highway.Greg FultonPresidentColorado Motor Carriers AssociationMeasuring noiseIn an effort to clarify the decibel readings of the recent article “Vail tests freeway noise,” and add to the understanding of sound measurement, the following information from the Marks Mechanical Engineering Handbook is offered.The decibel is a logarithmic scale unit for expressing the relative magnitude of two sound (or electrical) powers. The other logarithmic scale unit measurements in common use are the Richter Earthquake Intensity Scale, and the chemistry measurement of acidity or alkalinity known as the pH scale. The important factor being a multiplication of the strength by a factor of ten between the numbers for earthquakes and pH, and 20 for decibels. The air pressure variation is the physical characteristic being measured for two sources of sound, one being a standard, and the other being the tested source.Approximately half the population can hear 20 decibels, and 90 percent can hear 30 decibels. The number scale is defined as 20 times the logarithm to the base 10 of the ratios of sound pressure.Typical sound levels: Threshold of feeling:120 , thunder, artillery. Deafening: 110, nearby riveter, elevated train; 100, boiler factory, loud street noise. Very loud: 90, noisy factory, truck unmuffled; 80, police whistle, noisy office. Loud: 70, average street noise, average radio; 60, average factory, noisy home. Moderate: 50, average office, average conversation; 40, quiet radio, home, private office. Faint: 30, average auditorium, quiet conversation; 20, rustle of leaves, whisper. Very faint: 10, sound-proof room, threshold of audibility.Steve ZorichakVail, Colorado


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