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Traffic Noise

Noise is something we deal with and accept as part of everyday life. But do we really appreciate the impact it has on our life?
Here are some of the negative impacts noise can have (EEA, 2014b):

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Cardiovascular and physiological effects
  • Mental health effects
  • Annoyance
  • Cognitive impairment, particularly in children
  • Impacts on wildlife
  • Economic impacts

Road traffic is the most dominant source of environmental noise, affecting an estimated 125 million people (>55 decibels (dB) Lden, contributing to at least 10,000 premature deaths, over 900,000 cases of hypertension and 43,000 hospital admissions in Europe every year (EEA 2014b).

In 1996 the EC presented its “Green paper on future noise policy” (EC 1996). This estimated that due to external costs such as reduced house prices and possibilities of land use, increased medical costs and loss of productivity in the workplace, noise was having a negative impact ranging from €13 million to €30 billion on the EU economy.  The World Health Organisation has identified it as the second largest environmental health risk in Western Europe (WHO 2011).
In the UK the government estimates the cost of urban road noise is £7 to 10 billion. Similar to the cost of road accidents (£9 billion) (Defra 2014).
In Sweden the social cost of road noise was put at SEK16 billion, rail SEK 908 million and aircraft noise SEK 62 million (EEAb 2014).

Below are the external costs of different modes of transport during the day and night in Urban, Suburban and rural areas, calculated using a combination of EEA external cost estimates combined with TRACCS road usage data.

Click here for Defras transport noise modeling tool.

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