Letters — 17 October 2014
Of truck mufflers and “jake brakes”

Dear Editor,

Everyone who has listened to the news lately has heard the term “Quality of Life” used by the officials as an excuse to regulate bicycle bells and lights. As reported, the Transport officers and police regulatory action have included delays, tickets and some monetary fines for the owners. It is simple; you must have a bell and light on your bike, as the law requires.

Everyone who lives in Belize within about a quarter mile of any road a semi-truck operates on, knows the true meaning of “disturbing the peace”. The loud exhaust noises from these trucks truly diminish the “Quality of Life” for us.

Once isolated to a few, they have now become a plague upon the peace and quiet in Belize. I have asked at the Transport Office and the Police Station what the fee is to register a motor vehicle without a muffler. All have told me there is no such fee, as mufflers are required on all motor vehicles. Further, if a vehicle has no muffler, it would not be issued a license plate. Then how are these trucks operating on our roads, intentionally disturbing our peace and quality of life with, it appears, complete immunity?

Intentionally removing the muffler on such a large truck is noisy enough, but add in the totally unneeded use of an air-brake (commonly referred to as a “jake brake”), and the noise is terrible. The air-brake was not designed for use as it is being used in Belize, and certainly not in conjunction without a muffler. (Google: “Jake Brake”)

On behalf of all citizens of Belize, I respectfully request that the Minister of Transport provides clear directions to all Transport Offices and personnel that mufflers are required on all vehicles. Further, all personnel at check points will enforce this requirement and issue tickets to those trucks in violation of the law – no special treatment for friends, no special fee for allowing non-complying vehicles to obtain a license.

Re-license requires inspection to ensure the vehicle is still in compliance with Belize laws. Simple; the vehicle has a muffler, or does not. No test equipment, just look and listen. A pipe is not a muffler!

I have seen a number of the trucks on the Belize roads over the past 4 months, with listed licenses, having no mufflers or grossly defective systems. I grow weary of seeing and hearing them violating our “Quality of Life.”

If concerted law enforcement action is good enough for zero tolerance for bicycles’ bells and lights violations, then the removal of a required part of a vehicle so as to intentionally create loud, obnoxious noises, disturbing the public peace, should command similar attention.

Concerned citizen

(Please withhold my name)

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