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Ontario municipalities target noisy engine brakes, propose annual inspections

TORONTO, Ont. -- Most modern engine brakes are barely audible, yet an Ontario coalition of municipalities is p...

TORONTO, Ont. — Most modern engine brakes are barely audible, yet an Ontario coalition of municipalities is pushing the province to implement a costly mandatory engine brake inspection program to reduce noise.


The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has responded by claiming the program would place a costly burden on carriers, which would need to purchase new, expensive noise testing equipment.


The Ontario Traffic Conference (OTC), which acts on behalf of Ontario municipalities, is calling on the province to implement the program under existing Sec. 71 (1) of the Highway Traffic Act, which requires all vehicles to have a properly-functioning muffler.


Geoff Wood, vice-president of operations and safety at the OTA, pointed out excessive noise is caused by modified truck exhausts, not your run of the mill engine brake.


“The real problem with unnecessary noise from trucks has to do with modified truck exhausts not engine brakes,” he explained. “The fact is that modern engine brakes, when operated properly, do not actually cause any increase in noise levels. Proposing new laws and by-laws prohibiting the use of engine brakes is a mistake based on a misunderstanding of the real culprit causing the excessive noise problem that municipalities are trying to address.”


If municipalities want to reduce noise, they should be targeting only modified truck exhaust systems, he suggested.


“It’s already illegal to modify exhausts in a manner that would increase the noise they create, and what’s needed is more effective enforcement of the existing provisions in the Highway Traffic Act,” he claimed. “Carriers already are required to check exhaust systems annually as part of the truck’s annual inspection, but modifications that increase the noise level can occur at any time and it’s up to enforcement agencies to identify and take action against those modified vehicles. OTA supports the removal of both passenger and commercial vehicles from public roads when they fail to comply with the law. It’s time that laws already on the books are applied to vehicles breaking noise laws. We don’t need a new program to resolve this matter.”


The OTA is continuing to argue that a mandatory inspection program is an “overreaction to a relative minority of trucks operating with modified exhausts.”


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