Noise from heavy vehicle engine compression brakes is a significant and on-going cause of complaint for many NSW residents.
Engine brakes are devices fitted to the engine of heavy vehicles to slow the vehicle down. They are often referred to as ‘auxiliary braking devices’ or ‘secondary retarders’. A driver switches on the engine brake and it engages on release of the acceleration pedal. Engine brakes operate by causing the engine to act as a compressor when braking. The compressed air is released in short bursts which cause the characteristic engine brake ‘bark’. It is mostly the nature of this noise, rather than its volume that causes annoyance.
Engine brakes improve vehicle safety by reducing the load on service brakes on a steep descent but their use elsewhere provides little safety benefit. They can also extend the life of the vehicles service brakes and reduce maintenance costs.
Trucking is an important business. But the constant use of noisy engine brakes is hurting the industry’s image.
The worst problems occur when drivers use their engine brakes unnecessarily near built up areas, especially at night when residents are trying to sleep.
What can truck operators do
You can reduce engine brake noise around residential areas by:
- Installing a muffler that is specially designed to reduce engine brake noise
- Ensuring that your exhaust system is in good condition
- Turning off noisy engine brakes in built up areas.