Last week’s headline poses the question: “Just how loud are they?” [published Nov. 19, 2020,

in the Moab Sun News. -ed.]

We don’t need a standardized sound test or a lengthy article to tell us how noisy UTV’s are. Thousands of Moab ear witnesses can answer the question in two words: TOO LOUD.

The seemingly laudable efforts by UTV enthusiasts to mollify those of us whose lives have been violated by their incessant racket seem to suggest we should deny what we hear.

The sound measurements described in the article use the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International J1287 20-inch test for motorcycles which was updated to include off-road vehicles such as ATVs and UTVs. However, SAE specifically states, “This test does not evaluate total motorcycle sound during operation. For this purpose, SAE J331 or SAE J47 is recommended.”

The article claims the stock Polaris RZR “passed” the J1287 test at one decibel below the 96 decibel limit. The SAE J1287 test imposes no such limit. The 96 decibel limit comes from a recommendation by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) for “general off-highway use.” Both the MIC and SVIA further recommend the 96 decibel limit only in “areas where no sound level laws exist” and further advise “many states and localities have ordinances mandating other sound level limits.” In other words, the recommendations don’t apply to Moab’s city streets, especially in residential neighborhoods.

In fact, the article states that the 96 decibel reading corresponds to 82 decibels at a distance of 50 feet. Applying some simple physics, 82 decibels at 50 feet translates to 88 decibels at 25 feet. No matter how they spin it, UTVs routinely and substantially violate Section 17.74.080 of the Moab City Noise Ordinance which states: “The making and/or creating of excessive or unusually loud noise or sound within the City … is unlawful….The noise shall be measured at a distance of at least 25 feet from the source of the device upon public property or 25 feet from the property line if upon private property…. A measurement of 65 decibels shall be considered to be excessive and unusually loud.”

In this effort, UTV proponents use the wrong noise test, apply it to the wrong noise decibel limit, and tell us they’re working to solve the noise problem.

Pete Gross