Kudos to representatives Speier and Eshoo for seeking to reduce aircraft noise (“Lawmakers aim to quiet aircraft noise on the Peninsula” in the Sept. 20 edition of the Daily Journal).

I also urge them to work on eliminating a scourge of a more terrestrial nature: sonic assaults from train horns. It is highly questionable that modern rail crossings, with their gates, bells, flashing lights and barricades also need horn blasts that can be heard for miles around to alert motorists. It is so dubious that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has identified the “Chicago anomaly” in its studies which show that the current horn rules did not increase safety in northern Illinois. If gratuitous horn blasts were truly effective why hasn’t the federal government also required truckers to blast their horns multiple times when approaching all intersections?

Unlike the alleged traffic safety benefits of unprovoked train horn blasts, the health impacts such jarring noise in the form of insomnia and stress are real and well documented. Given that the once ballyhooed quiet zones have brought little relief from this chronic problem, it is time to have a qualified and independent body such as the CDC analyze the effectiveness of the FRA’s horn rule and rescind it if the Chicago anomaly is found to hold throughout the country. I can’t think of an issue that is more likely to unite rural and urban Americans than sleep that is free of train horn noise. How about it Ms. Speier and Ms. Eshoo?

Eric Gilbertson

Menlo Park

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(1) comment

Terence Y

Mr. Gilbertson – I agree with the train noise. I think everyone in San Mateo can hear the trains. However, I disagree that we need the CDC, as we’ve seen they’ll sometimes vary their guidance based on politics rather than scientific studies or facts. Let’s just do like the FAA, and instead, conduct a poll. The poll results may be more effective in getting Ms. Speier and Ms. Eshoo on board. Should we also add leaf blowers and lawn mowers to the list?

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