INDEPENDENT NEWS

Tunnel car horn event dangerous for Wellingtonians

Published: Thu 21 Feb 2019 01:56 PM
A dangerous event for Wellingtonians
Members of the Hearing Association Wellington Inc. would like to express their concern about a Facebook event occurring this Saturday, 23 February 2019, Set the tunnel tooting world record, https://www.facebook.com/events/791232187885172/. The event is in response to recent efforts to prevent people from tooting through the Mt Victoria tunnel. According to the Facebook event details (link above) its aim is to set a world record for the amount of ‘toots’ tooted in the Mount Victoria Tunnel in one day
At the time of writing, 3,000 people have signed up to take part in this event with another 15,000 registering as "interested".
While this might seem fun to motorists, for any pedestrian or cyclist using the tunnel during this event it could have catastrophic effects on their hearing. Background noise in the tunnel typically measures 80-85 dB. A single vehicle sounding its horn close to the pedestrian walkway takes this up to around 90 dB. The prospect of dozens of vehicles constantly sounding their horns in that echo chamber of a tunnel is horrific. Exposure to 115 dB will cause damage in just 30 seconds. Even at 103 dB, the maximum permissible exposure time 7.5 minutes. The tunnel is 660 metres long. A typical walker will take 10-12 minutes to cover that distance.
Our Audiologist Dr Lisa Seerup advises, “This level causes damage. Not if, but how much, and for children and babies the noise levels do not need to be as loud to cause the same damage.”
(Source: http://dangerousdecibels.org/education/information-center/decibel-exposure-time-guidelines/ )
In light of this danger, the Hearing Association is calling on the Mayor and Wellington City Council to either close the tunnel to pedestrians and cyclists during this event and provide alternate, safe transport through it, or for Council staff to man the tunnel at either end and hand out industrial-strength hearing protectors to all users. This is a serious Health and Safety issue and Council would be frivolous to ignore it.
It is perhaps doubly ironic that this event should come a little over a week before Hearing Awareness Week running from 3–9 March, part of which is to warn people about noise-induced hearing loss caused by exposure to excessive sound levels.

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