Take action! Write!
Tell automakers, industry leaders, safety regulators, consumer advocates, and policy makers that it's time to "silence the horns." Automakers' contact information is here > > > >
|Introducing another friendly, constructive letter-writing campaign|
|May 2017 While some retailers, hospitals, and national park stewards have taken steps to reduce the burden of noise in a recent cultural shift, most US environmental organizations pay little to no attention to noise pollution. At the same time, most people generally believe that "green cars are quiet." So essentially just about everyone from "car guys" to "tree huggers" assume that EV and hybrid cars "are quiet." |
|Alas, automakers that manufacture cars that honk to signal locking, remote start, "finding" "lost" cars, and other non-emergency tasks created EV and hybrid cars that use the same horn honking technologies. Additionally, automakers added some horn honking functions that internal combustion engine (ICE) cars don't have - such as use of a horn honk to signify stages of battery charging, adding staggeringly avoidable traffic sounds to residential parking space adjacent to buildings where people live and sleep.|
|Automakers have missed one opportunity after another to make our world quieter, including introducing new models with regressive and noise polluting horn-based lock signaling, and even new brands that feature non-emergency horn honking for convenience. |
|Like other US based environmental organizations, Sierra Club does not have any current campaigns addressing the effects of noise pollution on humans. Sierra Club's very decent noise policy is posted on the website, but environmental noise pollution is not mentioned among Sierra Club's conservation policies.|
|Sierra Club is an enthusiastic champion of electric vehicles, and has launched a national campaign to promote them. Please take a few minutes to inform Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune that electric and hybrid cars, like ICE cars, use horn sounds to signal non-emergency events for convenience and infotainment, including smart phone and wrist watch apps that create a horn honk from thousands of miles away, polluting national parks, wreaking havoc on sleep in residential settings, and creating friction between neighbors. It is not enough to be told by automakers that some sounds are optional - horn honking should be restricted to use WHEN DRIVING, and not be offered for potential use otherwise. |
|Consider also mentioning that there are millions of cars on the road today and millions more that will roll out of factories for years to come that are equipped with reverse beeping that is not limited to job sites, can be heard from more than a block away, that are not proven to be effective, and that children do not respond to. You might also want to mention that car alarms are no longer necessary, and that "panic alarm" is a driver activated car alarm whose safety and efficacy have never been studied by any regulatory agency. |
|Send a polite, friendly, concise email to michael (dot) brune (at) sierraclub (dot) org. Or send a letter by regular mail to:|
2101 Webster Street
Oakland, CA 94612
|What to say? Request that Sierra Club leadership appeal directly to automakers to one: stop using horn sounds for non-emergency acoustic signals; two: rethink and replace reverse beeping sound emissions based on science; three: eliminate "panic alarm" from all future models and replace it with any existing silent form of emergency communication; and four: ask that Sierra Club add noise pollution and soundscape protection and conservation to its conservation policies. |
Provide at least one example of a way that one of these technologies has affected you in terms of sleep, health, concentration, communication, or safety.
|Sierra Club should appeal directly to automakers regarding these and other unaddressed contributors to noise pollution because to do so aligns with the organization's noise policy, and because Sierra Club has a campaign promoting electric vehicles, which contribute to noise pollution in multiple settings, but should not imply that this only matters with regards to EV and hybrid cars - the request should apply to all cars. |
|We were delighted with Katie O'Reilly's interview with In Pursuit of Silence filmmakers in a recent Sierra magazine post. We have deep and longstanding respect for Sierra Club. But we think the time has come for the organization to contribute more to soundscape awareness and preservation, and we want the organization to realize that a product it has been promoting contributes substantially to noise pollution.
|Introducing a friendly, positive letter-writing campaign|
|May 2017 This recent article describes an initiative that combines education, technology, and enforcement - a progressive approach to dealing with noise pollution. The only room for improvement would be mention of horn-based lock signaling in the educational component.|
|If you agree, please send Councillor McKeen a brief, friendly letter or email. You can use the form on the contact page, but email or postal letters are preferred. Suggest that Councillor McKeen include mention of lock signal horn honking and "car finding" horn honking with smart phones and key fobs. We suggest using your own story and words and not mentioning the Silence the Horns project. Consider including mention of this message as an example of an area of Canadian government already addressing the technology.|
|Please begin and end your communication by thanking Councillor McKeen for this effort!|
We have Post-It Notes!
|March 2017 We will post a new action alert within a few weeks, although we don't plan to invest time writing to elected leaders during the current administration. If you are anxious to get to work, we suggest you make use of our Post-It Notes to politely let your others know that they have options other than honking to signify lock status, or advocate for quieter soundscapes by using an "I Quiet" bumper sticker! You can buy Post-It Notes or bumper stickers by writing to this email to order supplies or to receive templates so that you can create your own materials to print.|
The Purple Folder writing campaign has ended, but you can contact President Obama through his website or through Twitter.
|Horn-based vehicle alerts and the purple folder|
When President Obama isn't traveling, he regularly spends hours alone, reading. When he does this, there is a purple folder containing ten letters received by regular mail and selected by his staff. If you read online instructions and suggestions for writing, you will notice that the letters sent by regular mail are the ones that make it into that folder.
Whether you write by email or regular mail, there is less than a week to do this, so please do so now. Write a one-page letter to President Obama and let him know that there is one noisy but ignored issue that he should weigh in on. Focus your letter on the health or safety related effects of non-emergency horn-based vehicle alerts how they affect you - avoid editorializing about those who use the technology. Some additional suggestions for organizing and writing your letter are here, and contact information including mailing address is here.
Alternatively or in addition, frame the technology in terms of environmental conservation. You can listen to President Obama's Lake Tahoe speech during his recent conservation tour here.
You won't have to spend a lot of space explaining the technology. President Obama has spoken about racially motivated lock actuation in the pre-honking iteration of the technology in a 2013 speech and earlier, and others have written about racially motivated lock actuation with horns and chirps in the ParaPundit forum. (And GM advertising scholars may recall that a Cadillac ad employs playful bullying with the horn sound in a 2013 ad.)
Additionally, President Obama drives a Ford, previously drove a Chrysler, and will be familiar with the fact that these brands use horn honking for lock confirmation and other alert features.
What to say? Ask the president to weigh in. We don't need new laws, because there are already laws on the books among the many highway codes and sound ordinances throughout the United States and Canada that classify horn honking as a signal to warn drivers and pedestrians of imminent danger.
You don't have to mention the Silence the Horns project, as long as you are asking President Obama to add to the discourse on the importance of addressing environmental noise and its impacts on our health and our ecosystem. But do consider briefly mentioning horn sounds with lock signaling as a preventable and confusing form of sonic litter.
The Consumer Reports letter drive has ended, but it isn't too late to let the magazine know what you think of its coverage of horn-based acoustic alerts. The magazine published a Car Strategist column about acoustic lock alert in the Road Report section of the May 2015 issue, and an online version was published in April. This is the first time the magazine has addressed this family of techologies since a 2011 Chevy volt review. The article is a good start, but only addresses behavioral aspects of dealing with the problem, stopping short of suggesting that automakers who still use the horn consider using available quieter options. The article also doesn't mention new horn-based scenarios that have been added in the last few years by certain automakers.
If you want to send feedback, use the letter to the editor form. In the drop-down menus, select "Consumer Reports Magazine" and then select "Letter to the Editor." Begin with "Dear Editor" and mention in the first paragraph that you are writing about the article "Noises Off!" in the May issue of the magazine.
If you experience a technical issue where the form will not submit, or if you receive an e-mail from customer service recommending that you contact the Better Business Bureau, start over and resubmit a few minutes later. Only press the "Submit Query" button once.
You can also send feedback to the auto writers using the e-mail address carstrategist (at) cr.consumer.org and signing the communication with your full name and complete address, and better still, include your phone number.