How Many More Noisy Oversized Vehicle Mufflers Can Nevis Afford (Before They Drive Us All Crazy) ?

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The topic that I will address in this article is one that I”m sure will resonate with a large section of the local population. There is a plague upon us-a plague that has already engulfed our previously peaceful and attractive island home, and is threatening to destroy the ambience that Nevis has boasted of for years. Simply put, it is this: There is a growing (maybe “exploding” is more like it) tendency for vehicle owners, to replace their mufflers with a bigger and more noisy variant. We see it every day-vehicles gunning up and down the country roads, through Charlestown, in front of the Police Stations, with huge mufflers protruding from the rear, and flooding all and sundry with unnecessary and unbearable noise. New vehicles, and 99.9% of all vehicles imported into Nevis, are equipped with mufflers that have a built in silencer, designed to reduce the volume of noise coming from the engine. There is a good reason for this. Vehicle manufacturers know that engine noise can be a bother to the average human being, and have done such a good job at dealing with this potential problem, that it is often a pleasure listen to the quiet purring of a well tuned engine. The advertisers have often picked on this, and have made the quietness of a vehicle’s engine a big selling point ” the quieter the better. Enter Nevis of 2008. The silencers are being removed in droves, with impunity, unchecked, unregulated, with no regard for the public. The traditional muffler serves the public well. It does not disturb, and as all vehicle owners know, it allows the vehicle to travel at great speed “” 100, 150 miles per hour, or whatever its maximum speed is ” with minimum noise. Most of the vehicles in the Federation are still equipped with this type of muffler. What then is the reason for this new trend? My mechanic advises that the big pulling point is “power”. The new design gives more power to the engine. It allows the vehicle to go faster. The by product, however, is more noise, a lot more noise. So there you have it. Nevis, lovely Nevis, only 36 square miles, with the road around the island not more than 20 miles long, where most, if not all, motor vehicles in use are designed to travel over 100 miles per hour. Yet more and more of them are being altered to give more power. No wonder that most of the cars traveling at breakneck speed up and down the island are these high powered vehicles which leave a loud booming noise in their wake. And the plague expands by the day–speed and noise! Reckless SPEED and ear shattering NOISE! Why is this being allowed to happen? I can’t think of any benefit to the island that will accrue from this new habit. It is not good for health. It causes unnecessary stress. It is not consistent with the high end tourism that we are trying to promote, and is more likely to scare visitors away. It disturbs a quiet conversation in the home, disrupts church services and other public events, (not to mention ruining a good night’s sleep), threatens the lives of pedestrians and other road users, and frightens the wits out of a lot of us. In short, it poses a huge threat to the environment. I think that it is time that the police, the government, and people in general take a serious look at this growing menace, and signal that enough is enough. It is a trend that is likely to bring more trouble to this little island than it has bargained for if steps are not taken immediately to curb it. The police don’t seem to notice these things, and as a result take no action-the reason why vehicle owners feel free to create what is after all, a public nuisance. This article is not about the new drag strip, but the government, once having provided a facility for those who love the sport of drag racing, must ensure that measures are in place to keep the drag racing culture off the streets. Most of the altered vehicles on the island do not participate in official races. They are mostly driven by ordinary young men going about their business, but who take advantage of a lack of regulation to do as they please. I would like to give my support to Amba Trott and his campaign against the explosion of noise on Nevis. He has focused mostly on loud music. I would like to add vehicle noise to the debate. It needs to be addressed in the proposed Noise Abatement Act 2008, with the requirement that all vehicles must be equipped with a silencer to limit engine noise, and this requirement should be enforced at the time of licensing. Police should have the authority to remove vehicles that don’t meet the requirement from the roads. Industrial vehicles should not be overlooked. Most of the trucks on the island go about their business with the minimum of fuss, but there are a few that create much too much noise. Come to think of it, a muffler with a built in silencer should be a basic requirement in an island where many people live along the roadways, and which gets a large part of its revenue from tourism. Let us add this all up. Thanks to the expansion of the market for re-used vehicles, almost everybody on Nevis now owns a vehicle. The government has provided new roads throughout the island, which unfortunately appeal to those who love to drive fast. Add to this the current proliferation of vehicles traveling at high speed, aided by overly noisy mufflers, and near total lack of regulation, and what you have is madness on the roads. It is time for the authorities to do something about vehicle noise on Nevis. We cannot afford to squander the island’s biggest and most valuable selling point so wantonly. And my concern is not only about the impact on our tourism product-there is a section of the local population that is sick and tired of what is happening. And so there is a question we have to face: how many more noisy mufflers can Nevis afford before they drive us all crazy?

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