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  • Matt Harrison

Am I jerk not to get my muffler fixed?

Here’s my dilemma: my car is loud. An unidentifiable piece of the muffler fell off recently and ever since my car sounds like a Harley. I’d love to get it fixed, but the car is old and repairs are likely to be costly. My dilemma: Why should I pay hundreds of dollars to quieten my car?

First, some context.

During the peak of the pandemic, I experienced something that only happens on Christmas Day: North America more or less stopped. For me, living along the 366 in Edelweiss, that meant the highway was almost devoid of vehicles. Those three weeks in spring when things were really bad, were also auditory bliss. My family slept soundly and I could finally open the windows and hear only birds.

But as the lockdown eased, the noise returned. As it got warmer, motorcycles, especially, created a never-ending cacophony.

For some reason Quebec Transport (and other provinces too) allows motorcycles to produce noise at levels that other vehicles – like my car – can not. Typically cars cannot exceed 83 decibels. When it comes to motorcycles, “...the level allowed is 100 decibels; where the engine is idling, the level allowed is 92 decibels,” according to Transport Quebec.

With regard to sound levels and hearing loss, the Government of Canada’s website states “exposure to 85 dBA for eight hours daily ... as the limit for occupational noise.”

Throughout this spring and summer, we were stuck at home. The windows were all open since it was unusually hot. That meant my family was exposed to 85 dBA (trucks, cars, transport trailers) for far more than eight hours a day — more like 14 hours (8 a.m. to 10 p.m.) for more or less six months.