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Road traffic is now recognised as one of the main contributors to human noise annoyance in Europe.Approaches used to mitigate such noise on existing and new roads are and will continue to be a significant challenge to most national road authorities (NRAs) across Europe. The European Commission recently estimated that more than 40 million people living in European cities of more than 250,000 inhabitants are exposed to daily road traffic noise levels of greater than 50 dB Lden. This level of exposure has severe health and economic effects. The World Health Organisation recently estimated that at least 1 million healthy life years are lost each year due to traffic-related noise in the western European countries, including EU Member States.
Furthermore, the social costs of noise from road and rail across the EU have recently been estimated at €40 billion a year, about 0.4% of total EU GDP including health care costs. Examples of elements that contribute to the economic damage include a reduction in residential property prices,lost labour days due to illness associated with noise and reduced options for long term sustainable land use planning. The problems from road traffic noise exposure continue to grow. It is evident that a unified and consistent approach is needed for the management and control of the problem.
However, many NRAs in Europe are facing insufficient funding for the operation and maintenance of their national road networks. Demands for more innovative, long term and environmentally conscious solutions to address noise issues have been increasing and it is anticipated that these demands will accelerate due to increased noise annoyance complaints from the general public as traffic volumes continue to grow. Moreover, stakeholders today require greater accountability for all road transportation issues from NRAs. In 2012 CEDR called for proposals on noise assessment and road management. On-air is an answer to this call.