Everett man asks city to stop fast, loud cars on 25 mph roads

Louis Barbano is tired of putting up with the excessive noise and speed of vehicles on a residential street in south Everett.

The 38-year-old Boeing engineer has used home security cameras to track drivers on Dakota Way for nearly two years. Videos show late night burnouts and drivers swerving and zooming down the road.

Even through the cluttered audio, the throaty engine roar and spit are clear.

“At night, it will wake you up,” said Burbano, whose 2-year-old daughter has been awakened by passing motorcycles. “So everyone is awake.”


Loud cars have caught the attention of lawmakers around the world in recent years.

In Victoria, Australia, the city legally requires some owners to get their vehicles tested for noise emissions before they can hit the road. According to Drive.com, a violation costs $908.70 and ignoring a summons carries a $1,090 fine that can climb to more than $5,000 when it goes to court.

Some US states, including Florida, New York and Virginia, have recently passed new laws targeting loud cars.

Seattle enacted an ordinance against mufflers in 2018.

Instead of a collective murmur of “it’s too loud,” there’s science behind the decisions.

The World Health Organization and the European Joint Research Center published a 2011 study linking traffic noise to disease. Vehicle noise is considered a physical stressor, as is second-hand smoke.

Everett has a code that establishes maximum vehicle noise levels. Limits depend on speed and vehicle weight over 10,000 pounds. Having a higher hood than other vehicles.

Everett had more than 2,000 noise complaints last year, according to open statistics published by the city. But the source of those complaints – home, vehicle or other – is not identified in the online data portal.

Since 2015, 22 noise ordinance cases have been opened by the Everett Police Department. Of these, location type was not specified for 16 cases and all but three were closed.

Traffic violations for noise based on RCW 46.37.390 are difficult to enforce because an officer must witness it, Everett police spokesman Kerby Duncan said in an email.

“Riding noise complaints are one of the quality-of-life issues we work to address as a department,” Duncan wrote. “We’ve informed our public (we had social media over the summer with clarifications on muffler laws), force patrols from our Motors Unit, proactive patrols, and of course, responding to 911 complaints…the law doesn’t allow us to write citations based on witness statements or video.

The Everett Police Department’s traffic unit consists of two detectives, two motorcycle units and six patrol officers. Motorcycle units typically conduct patrols, and patrol officers respond to collision and DUI reports, as well as traffic complaints, Duncan said.

Staffing shortages have affected the traffic unit, as an officer from the motorcycle unit was temporarily reassigned to background checks on department candidates.

Department leaders aim to add four to eight more officers to the motorcycle unit, which will focus on vehicle noise and other “quality of life” issues, Duncan said.

Worrying about speed, Burbano has had enough that he has built a raised planter between his house and the street.

His hopes for Dakota Way differ from tech-driven approaches like Miami Beach’s noise detection cameras or Everett’s proposed red light cameras.

Instead he wants the city to install speed bumps or chicanes, preventing extensions that divert lanes from straight lines. Both options could slow down travel, he said.

“Those engineering solutions will take care of most cars,” Burbano said.

Speed ​​bumps have fallen out of favor among engineers, often citing data that show increased speeds between raised concrete humps. In other locations, speed humps have proven effective, particularly in reducing injuries to child pedestrians.

Tyler Rourke, an active transportation advocate who heads the city’s Transportation Advisory Committee of appointed volunteers, agrees with Burbano’s position. He has urged city leaders to change Everett’s public right-of-way in favor of greater bicycle and pedestrian access.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 42,000 people died in traffic accidents last year.

“We just shrug our shoulders,” Rourke said. “We don’t look at our system, the design of our roads or the design of cars.”

Roadwork is expensive, so replacing a road as short as Dakota Way can cost millions of dollars. But Burbano thinks the city could add some infrastructure to make it safer, such as chicanes that double as stormwater runoff basins.

“I hope they do something about it,” Burbano said.

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