Motor vehicle, train and tram noise

EPA staff member conducting noise test on a red car

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Individual motor vehicles

Noisy vehicles can cause annoyance, sleep disturbance and other health impacts. The Environment Protection (Vehicle Emissions) Regulations aim to minimise the negative impacts on Victorians and the environment from noisy vehicles. The regulations prescribe noise standards for in-service vehicles.

It is an offence to own or use a vehicle that exceeds noise limits in the vehicle emissions regulations. EPA can require a vehicle to be presented at one of its approved motor vehicle noise testers to determine compliance with the limits. A list of  EPA approved vehicle testers is available.

A member of the public can report a noisy vehicle to the traffic management unit at their local police station. If a police officer assesses the vehicle as being too noisy, the vehicle will be referred to EPA for noise testing.

The unreasonable noise provisions under section 48A of the Environment Protection Act 1970 also apply to motor vehicles on residential premises, such as vehicles left idling for a time or at a volume that could be considered unreasonable. The prohibited times in the Environment Protection (Residential Noise) Regulations 2008 do not apply to vehicles when moving in or out of the premises.

Noise from recreational vehicles, mini-bikes and trail bikes used on residential premises, including large rural living allotments, is also included as residential noise and the unreasonable noise provisions of the Environment Protection Act 1970 apply.

Train/tram noise and track maintenance

Problems with noise from public transport or noise from maintenance work on railway or tramway equipment should be directed to the transport operator. You can also contact the Public Transport Ombudsman (Victoria) to investigate your complaint. The PTO can only investigate the complaint after the transport operator has had an opportunity to respond.

Public Transport Ombudsman (Victoria)
PO Box 538
Collins St West
Melbourne VIC 8007
Telephone: 03 8623 2111
Country callers: 1800 466 865
Fax: 03 8623 2100

Road traffic noise

Motor vehicles are an integral part of today's society and have contributed significantly to the development of Victoria and the prosperity of its citizens. However, motor vehicles can produce adverse environmental impacts, especially in urban areas. Road traffic noise is one of these impacts. It can affect the health and wellbeing of residents, particularly when sleep is disturbed.

Road traffic is the most common source of noise in Victoria. It is heard by 70 per cent of residents, and significantly ‘bothers, annoys or disturbs’ 20 per cent of the population annually (see EPA’s Noise surveys 2007 for more information).

Reports about noise from general traffic flow should be directed to VicRoads or your local council, as they are responsible for traffic management.

Telephone: 13 11 71

Role of Government in addressing road traffic noise

EPA recognises the impacts that noise can have on communities. We work across state government to promote the implementation of reasonable measures to minimise road traffic noise and community exposure to noise. Our expertise and research helps Government to understand the nature and extent of traffic noise impacts.

EPA contributes to the national vehicle noise standards that set noise limits for new vehicles. EPA develops and enforces state motor vehicle regulations that reflect these standards. Through our motor vehicle compliance program we work with police to minimise the impact of individual noisy vehicles on Victorians.

VicRoads is the key agency responsible for road traffic noise management. They are responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of freeways and other major roads.

The VicRoads Traffic noise reduction policy (PDF 28KB, VicRoads) sets noise criteria for freeways and aims to limit noise impacts from new or upgraded roads. Note that this policy is currently under review by VicRoads.

VicRoads also manages noise from heavy vehicles. More information about road and truck noise can be found in the VicRoads website.

Reducing the impacts of road traffic noise

Road traffic noise is complex to control. Noise reduction must be approached strategically, considering the impacts that noise has on the population, and the significant logistical and cost challenges in reducing noise levels.

Reducing the impacts of road traffic noise requires combinations of:

  • reducing noise at the source, by improved standards for motor vehicles and quieter road surfaces
  • blocking transmission in the noise path, usually by noise barriers
  • traffic management, such as speed reduction, traffic flow control, and restrictions on heavy vehicles
  • protection at noise receivers through house design, layout and architectural treatments to reduce the intrusion of noise, and/or
  • integrated transport and land-use planning that considers the interactions between road use and urban design.

These measures largely need to be applied by agencies responsible for planning, building and road and urban design.

VicRoads developed A guide to the reduction of traffic noise for use by builders, designers and residents (PDF 1.4MB, VicRoads) to reduce the impacts of road traffic noise by building improvements and other measures.

Traffic noise will continue to be managed by VicRoads in accordance with the Traffic noise reduction policy.

Page last updated on 21 Jul 2016