Luis Burbano is tired of what he considers excessive noise and vehicle speed on a residential street in south Everett.
The 38-year-old Boeing engineer has used a home security camera to track drivers on Dakota Way for nearly two years. The videos show late-night burnouts and drivers zooming down the road.
Even through garbled audio, the sounds of gulping engines roaring and popping are clear.
“At night, it will wake you up,” said Burbano, whose 2-year-old daughter has woken up to a passing motorist. “Then everyone is awake.”
Loud cars have caught the attention of lawmakers around the world in recent years.
In Victoria, Australia, the city requires some owners to have their vehicles tested for noise emissions before they can legally be on the road. Violations cost $908.70 and the penalty for ignoring the citation carries a $1,090 fine that rises to more than $5,000 if it goes to court, according to Drive.com.
Some US states, including Florida, New York and Virginia, recently passed new laws targeting noisy cars.
Seattle made an ordinance against silencers in 2018.
There is science behind the decisions rather than a collective murmur of “it’s too strong”.
The World Health Organization and the Joint Research Center of Europe published a 2011 study linking traffic noise to the disease. Vehicle noise is considered a physiological stressor similar to secondhand smoke.
Everett has a code that sets maximum vehicle noise levels. The limit depends on a vehicle’s speed and weight, with those over 10,000 pounds. with a higher limit than other vehicles.
There were more than 2,000 noise complaints in Everett last year, according to open data released by the city. But the source (home, vehicle or other) of these complaints is not identified in the online data portal.
Since 2015, there have been 22 noise ordinance cases opened by the Everett Police Department. Of these, the type of location was not specified for 16 cases and all but three were closed.
Noise traffic violations based on RCW 46.37.390 are difficult to enforce because an officer has to witness it, Everett police spokesman Kerby Duncan said in an email.
“Vehicle noise complaints are one of the many important quality of life issues we work on as a department,” Duncan wrote. “We do this by educating our public (we had social media over the summer with clarifications on muffler laws), emphasizing our motor unit patrols, proactive patrols and, of course, responding to 911 complaints. .. the law does not allow us to write citations based on the word or video of a witness.”
The Everett Police Department’s traffic unit consists of two detectives, two motorcycle units and six patrol officers. Motorcycle units typically conduct emphasis patrols, and patrol officers respond to collision and DUI reports as well as traffic complaints, Duncan said.
Staff shortages have hit the traffic unit as one of the motorcycle unit’s officers was temporarily reassigned to the department’s applicant background investigations.
Department leaders aim to add four to eight more officers to the motorcycle unit, which would focus on vehicle noise and other “quality of life” issues, Duncan said.
Addressing the concerns, Burbano built a raised planter between his home and the road, just in case.
His hopes for Dakota Way are different from a technology-based approach like Miami Beach’s noise detection cameras or Everett’s proposed red light cameras.
Instead, he wants the city to install speed bumps or chicanes, sidewalk extensions that divert the lane from a straight line. Both options could reduce travel speeds, he said.
“These engineering solutions would take care of most cars,” Burbano said.
Speed bumps have fallen out of favor among engineers, often citing data showing that speeds increase between raised concrete humps. Elsewhere, speed bumps have proven effective, particularly in reducing injuries to child pedestrians.
Tyler Rourke, an active transportation advocate who heads the city’s appointed volunteer Transportation Advisory Committee, agrees with Burbano’s position. He has called on city leaders to change Everett’s public right-of-way in favor of greater access by bike and foot.
More than 42,000 people died in vehicle accidents last year, according to an estimate from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“We just shrug,” Rourke said. “We don’t look at our systems, the design of our roads or the design of cars.”
Roadworks are expensive, so changing even a street as short as Dakota Way could cost millions of dollars. But Burbano believes the city could combine some infrastructure to make it safer, such as chicanes that serve as stormwater runoff basins.
“I just hope they do something about it,” Burbano said.
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