Car Stereo Speakers: Turn Them Down
The right of United States citizens to turn the volume of their car stereo speakers to any decibel level they choose is a controversial topic. Although the federal Noise Control Regulation of 1995 governs noise emitted from vehicles, including amplified music, enforcement varies across the nation. The law states that neighborhood noise is left to local police and city councils (Noise Control). In many communities, police have been slow to enforce noise ordinances. Although they have the power to determine what noise is disruptive and to decide what penalty to give, they often just issue a warning and tell the offender to turn down the music.
Still, some cities have drafted codes that spell out violations and have begun to enforce them. For example, Cincinnati Municipal Code 910-7 states;
No person, firm, or corporation shall operate…(a) radio of other sound-producing or
Sound-amplifying instrument so as to emit loud and raucous noises or create noise or sound
As to disturb the peace and quiet of a neighborhood or as to interfere with the transaction of
business or other ordinary pursuits (Colino).
Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New York City, and Chicago have enacted much stricter laws against car stereo pollution. There police can impound offending vehicles and impose expensive fines (“Cut Volume”).
Opinions of citizens generally fall into tow directly opposed groups. Those who drive with high-powered stereos going full blast believe they have the right to play their music as loud as they like. Those outside the car or sometimes just stopped at a red light say the level of sound is rude, unsafe, and threatening to their health.
Those who believe they have the right to listen to their car stereos at any volume are critical of regulations that limit decibel levels, Marc Yarbrough, a twenty-year old Aurora, Illinois, resident is quoted by the Chicago Tribune, “for police to be harassing people who...