Authorities must enforce regulations covering car horns and alarms

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 January, 2012, 12:00am

Tony Yuen ('Car horns increase stress levels', January 21) and others suffering from the appalling level of noise pollution generated by car horns and alarms will be surprised to know that they are in fact banned under existing legislation. Unfortunately, the administration declines to enforce its own regulations.

Road Traffic (Traffic Control) Regulations Cap 374G, 43 states: 'No person shall use any audible warning device on a vehicle except to warn any person on or near a road of danger.' This certainly excludes 99.99 per cent of the car hooting on our streets. It has nothing to do with danger but everything to do with selfish drivers. Innocent pedestrians and nearby residents must share their frustration at being held up by gridlock, usually created by fellow drivers' illegal parking. The fine is a paltry HK$320.

As for car alarms, Cap 400 of the Noise Control Ordinance (1) (a) {minus} 'shall not emit any audible signal otherwise than by an act of direct physical contact with the vehicle' {minus} clearly indicates that intrusive bursts of ear-splitting noise when opening and locking vehicles, and oversensitive alarms, are in fact prohibited. The maximum penalty is a much more satisfactory HK$10,000. What is more, the insurance industry has confirmed that car alarms do not noticeably reduce car theft so they serve no useful function.

In dense urban environments, these devices exact a heavy toll. They intrude on and interrupt the activities of everyone within range, decrease worker productivity and significantly diminish the quality of life.

Hong Kong has no domestic car manufacturing industry to protect so the administration could quickly and effectively resolve the noise pollution problem by restricting the volume of car horns and banning car alarms except those using global positioning system technology that alert the vehicle owner's mobile phone without disturbing innocent bystanders.

The Real Estate Developers Association has recently been forced to become more transparent in its operations. It is now time that the Motor Traders Association of Hong Kong, comprising all authorised vehicle importers in Hong Kong, be forced to display some civic responsibility.

Could Edward Yau Tang-wah, secretary for the environment, promise readers that he will make it a priority to meet the association and police commissioner to ensure that regulations are enforced and that the interests of the minority of vehicle owners are no longer allowed to usurp those of the majority?

Candy Tam, Wan Chai

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