Turn down that sound

THE loud vroom of a speeding motorcycle in the dead of the night while you’re trying to sleep is something we can all do without.

Unfortunately, most noise complaints to the Department of Environment (DOE) are cases like the above.


The number of complaints has also increased over the past three years – from five in 2018, it doubled to 10 in 2019 and spiked to 16 last year.

“The nature of most complaints is excessive noise from motorcycles and motor vehicles, which usually happens at night, ” the DOE tells Sunday Star.

Today, there is more noise from road traffic compared with about 10 years ago, according to several noise measurements taken in Malaysia by experts.

Other noise pollution sources add to the mix, including construction works and commercial activities.

But recently, the issue of excessively loud modified motorcycles came under the spotlight when it was reported that the Road Transport Department (JPJ) will take an advocacy approach in its enforcement against such bikes.

The loud noise from the modified motorcycle exhausts can disrupt public peace if it is continuous, the DOE says.

It can also cause hearing problems, annoyance and emotional uneasiness.


Last year, the DOE conducted 92 operations against excessively loud motorcycles on the road, together with the traffic police and JPJ.

“From these operations, 6,279 motorcycles were checked and 205 compounds were issued, ” the DOE says.

For motor vehicles, owners of those with loud exhaust noise that exceeds permitted levels can be penalised under the Environmental Quality (Motor Vehicles Noise) Regulations, with a maximum fine of RM2,000.

Legally, the maximum sound level permitted for motorcycles is between 92dBA and 99dBA, depending on the type of bike and manufacturing year (dBA, which stands for “A-weighted decibels”, is a measure of sound).

Such levels are akin to the sound of a power lawn mower or subway trains.

Aside from motorbikes, vehicles like cars and lorries are allowed a range of maximum sound level between 80 and 88dBA, which may sound like a noisy restaurant.

“Those who breach the sound levels will be subject to a maximum compound of RM2,000 and a written notice instructing the motorist to repair or reinstall the exhaust according to its original specifications from the manufacturer.

“The offender has to make an appointment with state DOE officials to conduct retesting to ensure compliance with the regulations, ” the department says.

During the movement control order, the movement of vehicles on the road was reduced tremendously.

“As a result, air and water quality improved, and there were reduced noise levels and land surface temperatures.

“But after the implementation of the recovery and conditional MCO phases, most economic activities were allowed and the number of vehicles on the road increased.

“This situation resulted in pollution returning to its original levels, including noise from vehicles, ” the DOE explains.

If the public finds any vehicles emitting excessive noise and polluting the environment, the DOE urges them to report the vehicle through its toll-free line 1-800-88-2727 or via the eAduan website at eaduan.doe.gov.my.

“The public should ensure that their vehicles comply with the law at all times, ” the DOE says.

Regular maintenance is also of utmost importance to ensure vehicles are safe, operating at optimal levels and producing less pollution.“The environment is a shared responsibility among all of us, ” it adds.

However, so far there are no laws that govern the sale of vehicle exhausts in accessory shops.

“This matter has been discussed by the national committee on vehicle type approvals, chaired by the JPJ, ” the DOE says.

Meanwhile, motorcycle enthusiasts say the roar of the exhaust is part of the passion for riding but agree that it shouldn’t be taken to the extent of becoming a nuisance.

An avid 30something motorcycle and car enthusiast who wishes to be known only as Adam says it is part of the thrill for the rider to hear the “vroom” when revving up the bike.

“The sound also acts as a signal for other vehicles, especially cars to be aware that a motorcycle is close by.

“Most riders I know find that drivers are not fully focused on the road, ” he says.

Adam, who is part of several motorcycle and car clubs, says many motorcyclists are fearful because roads in Malaysia do not have enough space to accommodate riders.

“This is especially true when traffic is heavy, like during office hour jams, ” he adds.

However, he says riders like him do agree that excessively loud noise from modified exhausts is unnecessary, especially when riders hit the accelerator just to get the sound that they want.

“This can cause hearing problems and disturb others.

“Many people will be uneasy with such loud noises and it will become a bane if there are houses or residential areas nearby, ” Adam admits.

He says the price to modify exhausts can range from RM400 to RM5,000.

“It depends on the motorcycle model and each individual’s preference, ” he adds.

On the exhaust noise from motorcycles helping to alert other motorists of their presence, the DOE says the excessive noise can instead lead to disturbance for other road users.

“The safety of motorcyclists is dependent on proper riding methods when encountering heavy vehicles, and not cutting too close to other vehicles.

“Hence, incidents can be avoided through safer ways, ” it adds.

The DOE, however, says it is not stopping motorcycle enthusiasts from indulging in their hobby as long as they follow the rules, including regulations on noise levels.

“All quarters, including commercial and private vehicles as well as the general public, are advised to always ensure their vehicles are regularly serviced to prevent pollution and disruptions to public peace, ” it says.

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