Noise pollution is being discussed in the state Legislature this session, and those suffering from it might get some relief soon.

Senate Bill 2127 and House Bill 1545 would establish a decibel limit to define vehicular noise pollution, and make owning or operating a vehicle that exceeds the established limit illegal. It also would prohibit the sale of vehicles that emit noise that exceeds the established decibel limit.

“It’s hard to explain what it’s like to live with this kind of noise unless you have experienced it yourself,” Kent Rayhill, a resident, said in written testimony. “It literally feels like torture some days.”

Coyne Street in McCully with parked cars along the mauka side and usually congested. Cars driving on the mauka side with parked cars usually yield to oncoming cars.
Lawmakers want to limit the decibel level of cars in residential neighborhoods. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Most complaints involve vehicular noise, from rumbling mufflers to beeping reverse signals, to car engines so loud that the sound shakes houses.

“(Noise pollution) has happened in all hours of the day and even sometimes at night,” said Rep. Adrian Tam, one of many representatives behind this bill. “We do have noise regulations, but we don’t have the resources to really help fight the noise.”

Both bills cleared their first round of committee hearings last week. The measures have a final committee to clear in each chamber before they can go to floor votes in the House and Senate.

Tam said he’s heard complaints across the state from people who spoke of noises that disrupt their sleep and daily lives.

Tam said he and his fellow legislators are trying to dedicate funds to the Honolulu Police Department for the purchase of equipment that measure decibels and quantify noise pollution.

Fourteen individuals submitted written testimony in support of HB 1545, but the state Department of Health questioned the expenses for the police equipment proposed by lawmakers.

The DOH said car-modification regulations might already have the capacity to regulate the sale of vehicles that increase noise in Hawaii neighborhoods.

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