2007 noise surveys – sources of noise

Road traffic noise

The 2007 noise surveys found that road traffic noise was the main noise source affecting the Victorian community. This was because of its prevalence and high levels. The people we surveyed said it annoyed, disturbed sleep and interrupted reading, relaxing and quiet activities.

Residential noise

Residential areas far from industry and transport noise were the quietest. However, the social survey found that neighbour noise was second only to road traffic noise in the level of annoyance across Victoria. If construction noise coming from homes was also considered, the level of disturbance from residential activities was comparable to that from traffic.

Other studies have found that annoyance from neighbour noise comes from more than just the noise itself (its volume, pitch or duration). For those annoyed, a main factor is lack of consideration shown by the noisemaker. Neighbour noise is seen as largely preventable through a neighbour’s actions and that allowing the noise to occur shows a lack of respect for others.

Neighbour noise also tends to be irregular or unpredictable. This means it is less likely to become part of the background noise, which after a while many people become accustomed to and not notice. Also, people are more likely to adapt to noise that has a purpose or function. For example, people generally appear to be less annoyed by a regular and functional noise source such as passenger trains compared to a neighbour’s television, music or parties.

Other main noise sources

Alarms and construction noise also annoyed and disturbed a substantial proportion of Victorian residents, with residential building/renovations and burglar alarms being the most prevalent.

Industrial noise was found to be quieter overall than road traffic noise, and impacted upon far fewer people, with 10 per cent of Victorian residents hearing industrial noise at their homes. However, industries located near dwellings could dominate the noise experienced particularly at night and could impact significantly on those local residents.

The following table indicates the level of annoyance for the top five noise sources of concern for the Victorian community found by the 2007 noise surveys.

Level of annoyance for the top five noise sources of concern for the Victorian community found by the 2007 noise surveys

Source of noise Proportion of respondents who hear the noise Proportion of respondents moderately to extremely bothered, annoyed or disturbed by noise source
Road traffic noise 70% 20%
Neighbour noise 57% 15%
Audible Alarms 48% 8%
Construction activities 34% 8%
Aircraft noise 61% 6%

Sound from sites

Below are links to recordings from different homes near noisy sites across Melbourne. These were near a main road during the day, near an industrial site at night and near a waste depot during the day.

Traffic noise was present at all the locations, but local noises can dominate when close to industry or commercial sites.

Page last updated on 17 Aug 2012