Testimony to the Environmental Protection Committee of the New York City Council on Int. No. 397: Noise Code and Car Alarms

Thank you Chairman Gennaro and members of the Environmental Protection Committee for holding today’s hearing. My name is Kit Hodge. I am the Campaign Coordinator for Transportation Alternatives, New York City’s advocates for walking, bicycling and sensible transportation.

I am here today to urge the passage of Int. No. 397, which will allow the City to undertake a study of the feasibility of instituting a completely ban on the use of audible car alarms.

As you are aware, Transportation Alternatives, with the support of countless New Yorkers, has long advocated for a full ban on the use of audible car alarms. Studies show that car alarm noise raises blood pressure, increases stress hormones and exacerbates illness. It leads to learning problems, as children struggle to concentrate or to sleep. It makes neighborhoods less civil. And car alarm noise actually contributes to crime.

During committee meetings held during the last two years and in our study, “Alarmingly Useless: the Case for Banning Car Alarms in New York City,” Transportation Alternatives has detailed the many reasons why a full ban on the use of audible car alarms in New York City is possible, popular and necessary.

Nonetheless, it’s become clear over the last year that, despite council and tremendous popular support, including editorials in our city’s leading newspapers, the City is not yet completely convinced that a full ban on the use of audible car alarms is a good idea.

During the hearing on Int. 81 in Summer 2004, a representative from the New York City Police Department testified that, though the department does not have any evidence supporting this claim, the NYPD believes that audible car alarms deter car theft and should thus not be banned. The NYPD has undervalued its own crime fighting efforts in its assessment of the efficacy of audible car alarms.

Though that hearing led to the passage of a partial ban on the use of audible car alarms in New York City, there are still many loopholes that allow the abuse of the alarms. Indeed, New Yorkers continue to suffer from unnecessary and obnoxious noise that keeps them awake at night and tense during the day.

Based on discussions with DEP Deputy Commissioner Robert Avaltroni, we believe that the passage of the Mayor’s Noise Code revision will allow us to work with both the DEP and NYPD on a study that will show that audible car alarms are not significant theft deterrents. We look forward to working with the agencies to study the potential for a full ban on the use of audible car alarms in New York City.

Both the Mayor and the Council have recognized the importance of mitigating unnecessary and obnoxious noise in our city. We commend the Mayor and the Council for taking a step forward towards a stronger noise code, including a full ban on the use of audible car alarms, through the passage of Int. 397.

Thank you.

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