Several Queens legislators took the lead on giving their constituents a good night’s sleep during the June legislative session.
State Sens. John Liu (D-Bayside) and Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) both co-sponsored legislation aimed at fighting the trend of cars and motorcycles mufflers that are customized to pop like firecrackers or rumble so loud they shake windows.
The bill that Addabbo and Liu co-sponsored, the “Stop Loud and Excessive Exhaust Pollution Act,” fittingly nicknamed the SLEEP Act, passed the state Legislature mid-June.
If signed by Gov. Cuomo, it will ban the sale of devices for the muffler or exhaust system of a motor vehicle that makes them louder. The fine for a violation, which now maxes out at $150, would go up to $1,000.
Auto customizations, both in the forms of muffler devices as well as sound systems, have swollen over the pandemic, and 311 noise complaints increased in Precincts across the borough as souped-up car enthusiasts raced their tricked-out rides throughthe city’s bare streetscape.
The issue has come to a head as the weather has gotten warmer. In Addabbo’s district in South Queens, residents recently started a petition over auto noise that got hundreds of signatures in just three hours.
PJ Marcel, a neighborhood advocate from Howard Beach, said that the crackling of customized mufflers plagues residents of the neighborhood on the edge of its northern highway.
“My neighbor just had triplets. They have a house right off the side of the Belt Parkway. It’s all you hear all night. What steps do they have to take? Do my neighbors have to invest thousands of dollars to soundproof their homes?” he asked.
The legislators who passed the bill hope the answer is no.
They’ve argued that excessive noise is not just an inconvenience but an “underestimated threat,” as characterized by the World Health Organization. The text of the bill raises the fact that one in four people will suffer from loss of hearing in the U.S. The appearance of the muffler equipment, they argue, represents an undue burden for low-income constituents who cannot spend the money to protect themselves from it.
In addition to banning the custom muffler devices, the SLEEP Act takes several approaches to cut down on their use. It also aims to increase fines and regulations against motorists and custom auto shops that service bikes and muscle cars to make them noisier.
The bill will also require the commissioner of Motor Vehicles to deny or revoke a license to operate a vehicle-inspection business upon a third or subsequent willful violation of regulations regarding mufflers within an 18-month period.
Gov. Cuomo has not yet indicated if he plans to sign the bill. The bill would take effect on the first of April after it becomes a law.