Measurement with a Sound Level Meter of the Noise Generated by Motorcycles, Mopeds and Scooters

The SAAQ’s pilot project that used a sound level meter to measure the sound level (in decibels) generated by the exhaust systems of motorcycles, mopeds and scooters has come to an end. The pilot project’s findings have resulted in amendments to the Highway Safety Code that will allow police forces to measure the sound level of the exhaust systems of motorcycles, mopeds and scooters using a sound level meter. This measure will come into effect once the regulation governing its application is ready.

Pilot project description

The pilot project started in May 2013 and ended on May 16, 2018.

The pilot project allowed police forces to use sound level metersA device used to measure sound pressure or intensity levels within our audible frequency range. It provides a measurement in decibels. we provided to measure the exhaust system sound levels, in decibels, of motorcycles, mopeds and scooters.

The purpose of the pilot project was to:

  • gather information on the application of the new measurement method in order to make improvements, if necessary
  • check the validity of control parameters according to this new method, before proposing any amendments to the Highway Safety Code and attendant regulations

Measurement method with a sound level meter

The standard was established by the SAAQ, the Ministère des Transports, de la Mobilité durable et de l'Électrification des transports and a Université Laval researcher who drew inspiration, in particular, from sound level standard J2825 of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE).

To make measurement easier and ensure reliability, the method was developed on the basis of the new standard.

Useful information

How are decibels measured?
Decibels are measured using a sound level meter positioned 50 cm away from the muffler, at the same height and at a 45-degree angle.

The police officer asks the driver to hold the motorcycle and activate the throttle while the sound level meter records a measurement. In the case of a motorcycle equipped with a manual transmission, the motorcycle must be in neutral when measuring sound levels.

Motorcycles, mopeds, scooters and noise

The noise from certain exhaust systems on motorcycles, mopeds and scooters can not only disturb the peace and tranquillity of residents but also have an impact on road safety, considering that excessive noise can be a source of distraction.

Decibel levels allowed by law

  • Where the engine rotates with a constant or variable speed:
    • 100 decibels for a motorcycle
    • 90 decibels for a moped or scooter
  • where the engine is idling:
    • 92 decibels for a motorcycle
    • 82 decibels for a moped or scooter

Refusal to submit the motorcycle, moped or scooter to sound level testing

During the pilot project, drivers who refused to have the sound level of their motorcycle, moped or scooter measured were liable to a $200 to $300 fine.

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La méthode de mesure du bruit par sonomètre

(Video on Using Sound Level Meters to Measure Sound - in French only)