Unnecessary vehicle noise and health, safety, and attention
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Academic Literature about Noise and Health, Safety, and Attention

Horn honking used for vehicle lock confirmation has never been specifically addressed in scholarly literature about noise, safety, attention, or distraction. Most scholarly research on effects of noise is not conducted in the United States, and most of the world's other auto markets don't use horn honking to announce that a car is locked, remotely started, or for other infotainment purposes. "Only in America!" (Unfortunately, also in Canada) A German public health epidemiologist told us we would be wasting our time trying to prove its harmful effects; they've been proven, or the horn wouldn't be used to grab our attention. He said to focus on the legal status of its misuse.

At first we thought that we couldn't legitimately cite community noise, road noise, or traffic noise research in discussion of horn-based, non-emergency horn use. But lately we've been finding public health traffic noise studies that do include horn honking.

And findings of community noise, road noise, and traffic noise studies can be applied in a common sense context to many situations: those whose living space faces parking space, and anyone startled or confused by remote honking while driving, cycling, or walking. And as attention science and safety continue to evolve, automotive "futurists" might want to pay attention.

In addition to attention science, discordant horn honking is strongly related to safety because of its aggressive nature, its intended role as a safety alert, and its role in crashes, road rage incidents, and other bullying incidents that have resulted in serious injury and death. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Which again begs the question: what were product developers thinking when they decided to misuse a safety device associated with aggression, road rage, and bullying that has led to death, for a task as banal as lock confirmation? And why do they continue to add to the array of horn honking confirmation and infotainment technologies?


Environmental Noise and Health

Road traffic and railway noise exposures and adiposity in adults: A cross-sectional analysis of the Danish Diet, cancer, and health cohort (Christensen et al, 2016) (Full text)
Residential road traffic noise and high depressive symptoms after five years of follow-up: Results from the Heinz Nixdorf recall study (Orban et al, 2016) (Full text)
Assessment of traffic-related noise in three cities in the United States (Lee et al, 2014) (Full text)
Environmental noise pollution in the United States: Developing an effective public health response (Hammer, Swinburn, and Neitzel, 2014) (Full text)
High blood pressure and long-term exposure to indoor noise and air pollution from road traffic (Foraster et al, 2014) (Full text)
Road traffic noise and incident myocardial infarction: A prospective cohort study  
(Sorensen et al, 2012)
(Full text)
Sleep disturbance due to noise: Current issues and future research  
(Hume, 2010)
(Full text)
Environmental noise, sleep and health  
(Muzet, 2007)
(Full text)
The effect of transportation noise on health and cognitive development:
A review of recent evidence   (Clark and Stansfield, 2007)
(Full text)
Noise Pollution: A Modern Plague   (Goines and Hagler, 2007) (Full text)
Transportation noise and cardiovascular risk: Updated review and synthesis of epidemiological studies indicate that the evidence has increased   (Babisch 2006) (Full text)
Guest Editorial: Noise and Health   (Babisch 2005) (Full text)
Road traffic noise and annoyance: an increasing environmental health problem  
(Bluhm, Nordling, and Berglind, 2004)
(Full text)
Ambient neighbourhood noise and children's mental health   (Lercher, et al, 2002)   (Full text)
The Association between Noise Exposure and Blood Pressure and Ischemic Heart Disease: A Meta-analysis   (van Kempen, et al, 2002)   (Full text)
Traffic noise and cardiovascular disease   (Babisch 2000) (Full text)
Noise Exposure and Public Health   (Passchier-Vermeer and Passchier, 2000) (Full text)
Environmental Noise and Health: An Integrated Research Perspective   (Lercher, 1996) (Full text)
Noise and stress: a comprehensive approach   (Westman and and Walters, 1981) (Full text)


Vulnerable populations and noise exposure

Noise and health in vulnerable groups: A review (van Kamp and Davies 2013) (Full text)
Noise and autism spectrum disorder in children: An exploratory survey (SM Kanakri et al 2017) (Abstract)
Exaggerated acoustic startle reflex in Gulf War veterans with PTSD (CA Morgan et al 1996) (Full text)


Environmental Noise, Disparity, and Social Justice

Social aspects of noise pollution explain why people rarely complain about noise even when it affects them greatly. Frequently cited reasons include the assumption that authorities will not take a complaint seriously, that the complaint will be a waste of time, and that the noisemaker may retaliate. Another reason cited is the fact that many people who are negatively affected by noise are already overwhelmed by trying to meet more basic needs; addressing excessive noise is given a low priority in such instances.

Sleep symptoms, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic position (Grandner 2013) (Full text)
Traffic noise and blood pressure in low SES African-American schoolchildren (Belojevic 2012) (Abstract)
Analysis of social inequalities in residential exposure to road traffic noise   (Bocquier 2012) (Full text)
Associations between nighttime traffic noise and sleep   (Halonen 2012) (Full text)
Social inequalities in residential exposure to road traffic noise   (Havard 2011) (Full text)
Sleep disparity in the population (Patel 2010) (Full text)
Cars, corporations, and commodities   (Woodcock and Aldred 2008) (Full text)
Poverty and chaos (Evans 2008) (Full text)


Environmental Health Perspectives

Noise and Body Fat: Uncovering New Connections (Nicole 2016) (Full text)
Fighting Noise Pollution: A Public Health Strategy (Holzman 2014) (Full text)
Individual Daytime Noise Exposure during Routine Activities and Heart Rate Variability (Kraus 2013) (Full text)
Decibel Hell: The Effects of Living in a Noisy World (Chepesiuk 2005) (Full text)
Noise that Annoys: Regulating Unwanted Sound   (Schmidt 2005) (Full text)
Clamoring for Quiet: New Ways to Mitigate Noise   (Manuel 2005) (Full text)


Quiet, Peaceful Areas, Health, and Wellbeing

Not all noise research focuses on noise. Several areas of environmental research have been converging in studies that focus on the healthy effects of quiet and silence.

Soundscapes and human restoration in green urban areas (van Kamp 2015) (Full text)
Characterizing urban areas with good sound quality (van Kempen 2014) (Full text)
Characterizing the soundscape of tranquil urban spaces (De Coensel 2013) (Full text)
Quiet as an Environmental Value: A Contrast between Two Legislative Approaches (Thorne 2013) (Full text)
The Soundscape Quality in Some Urban Parks in Milan, Italy   (Brambilla 2013) (Full text)
A Quantification of the Effect of Quiet Side Exposure at Dwellings (de Kluizenaar 2013) (Full text)
Effects of Vision-Related Aspects on Noise Perception of Wind Turbines in Quiet Areas (Maffei 2013) (Full text)
How Pleasant Sounds Promote and Annoying Sounds Impede Health (Andringa 2013) (Full text)
Do Quiet Areas Afford Greater Health-Related Quality of Life than Noisy Areas? (Shepherd 2013) (Full text)
The Quiet Side Effect in Dwellings Highly Exposed to Road Traffic Noise (Van Renterghem 2012) (Full text)
Valuation of Green Walls and Green Roofs as Soundscape Measures (Veisten 2012) (Full text)
Quiet Areas and the Need for Quietness in Amsterdam (Booi 2012) (Full text)


Acoustic Alert Potpourri

Concise but informative history of theft deterrent systems   (Heitmann, 2009) (Blog post)

Vehicle Motion Alarms: Necessity, Noise Pollution, or both?   (Holzman, 2011) (Full text)

Children's response to a commercial back-up warning device   (Sapien, et al, 2003) (Full text)



Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Added Noise

NoiseOFF summary of electric vehicle added noise   (Article)

Anti-Noise Activists Oppose Sounds for Electric Cars   (New York Times, 2010) (Article)

Blind Advocates ‘Disappointed’ in Nissan E.V. Sounds   (New York Times, 2010) (Article)

Hybrid Cars May Include Fake Vroom for Safety   (New York Times, 2009) (Article)

Are vehicles driven in electric mode so quiet that they need acoustic warning signals?   (Article, ICA 2010)

Nissan LEAF VSP Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians   (Video) (Approach at 3:30, Backup at 3:40)

Nissan LEAF approach and backup Sound   (Shorter video)

Nissan LEAF Approach Sound   (Shorter video)

Fisker Karma external warning sound   (Video)

The Sounds of the Chevrolet Volt   (Video) (includes comments on the decision to use a horn)


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