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Socioeconomic and situational factors in urban traffic noise annoyance levels Saur, William Leonard

Abstract

Traffic noise is having an increasingly adverse impact on the quality of urban life. As a result it is necessary for community planners and engineers to develop better traffic management criteria and study techniques to keep the level of community traffic noise to socially desirable levels. In the recent past substantial research has been done to help understand the physical properties of traffic noise and indices of community noise perception. However, little is understood about the perception and annoyance levels of specific groups toward traffic noise. Complete knowledge of all dimensions of traffic noise annoyance is necessary for the further development of community traffic management criteria and neighborhood planning techniques. The purpose of this research is to investigate the dimensions of public annoyance to traffic noise in a large city. Specifically, the study objective is to investigate the relationship between noise annoyance in several urban neighborhoods and the socioeconomic and situational variables which have some impact on attitudes about traffic noise. Following a preliminary noise annoyance survey of 3500 households in Vancouver, British Columbia, a discriminant-classification statistical technique was used to analyze a follow-up, in depth, attitudinal survey of 331 households in several neighborhoods. Three categories of information were obtained in the survey: 1) a household survey of attitudes to noise using a semantic differential scaling technique; 2) measures of the socioeconomic and cultural profiles of each household surveyed, and 3) measures of the physical and situational neighborhood variables which would likely have some effect on the noise environment of the household. The statistical model was used to investigate the dimensions of socioeconomic, cultural, and physical variables on separating those social groupings which were highly sensitive to traffic noise from those who were less sensitive. Results show that the respondent's high socioeconomic status is the major factor in noise annoyance followed by the distance the respondent lives from major traffic arteries. Particularly, it appears that education levels are the dominant factor in traffic noise annoyance. The implication of the results of this research is that traffic management criteria must include consideration of the socioeconomic and cultural environment as well as accepted traffic planning criteria to meet publicly acceptable traffic noise levels.

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