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Loud Pipes Save Lives – Is It a Myth or Truth

In motorcycling, the topic “loud pipes save lives” never seems to die. Chances are you’ve seen the biker stickers and patches with this phrase. But is it myth or truth? The phrase is related to two extremes of an argument. Some argue that loud motorcycle pipes prevent accidents and save lives; others argue that the loud noise is merely a nuisance.

Many cities and communities in the United States have banned motorcycles because of residents complaining about the noise. And before I became immersed in motorcycle culture, I would have probably supported a city ordinance banning motorcycles if the noise bothered me.

But on today’s’ crowded highways, at a time when more and more things are competing for your attention as a driver, it’s easier to notice a loud motorcycle. It’s even almost impossible to miss a very loud one, whether its in your blind spot, in front or behind you. I can’t think of another method that increases visibility of motorcyclists, without them being visible per se.
So, loud pipes make motorcyclists more visible to others on the road, and this increases safety. Now how much this contributes to saving lives is difficult to measure, but you might say that increased safety reduces the chances of serious accidents. There’s your answer: “loud pipes save lives” is truth.

A question then comes to mind:

Does this mean that the rest of humanity has to cope with the noise?

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  1. Considering the number of bikes on the road compared to the number of other vehicles on the road coupled with the number of times it’s saved someone from serious injury or death…I would say you can put up with it for a few seconds as we go by.

  2. Given the speed at wich most accidents occur and the fact that most motorcycles are hit at the frontside, it doesn’t help. You only hear the noise beside or behind the motorcycle….

  3. How are you supporting your statement that it’s easier to notice a loud motorcycle? Has there been any testing done? In a quiet car, maybe. In a car with the air conditioner and the stereo and subwoofer blasting, doubtful. Also, sound doesn’t help you ‘see’ anything. The use of bright clothing and modulated headlamps will help you be seen at a much greater distance than the brief moment loud pipes can be heard. It’s not the drivers that are complaining. It is the pedestrians that hear you coming a quarter mile away and long after you’ve passed by. While we’re on the subject, wearing helmets would save a lot more lives than loud pipes, and they ARE legal, but only mandatory in ~20 states.

  4. I know for sure that quiet vehicles-bicycles, cars and motorcycles have snuck up in my blind side many, many times. When I hear a loud motorcycle, I always check to see where it is

  5. Guys put the loud pipes on their bikes for the same reason kids put those stupid loud mufflers on their cars – to be as obnoxious as possible. It’s been proven that loud pipes can actually confuse and startle a motorist, causing them to veer INTO you. “Loud pipes save lives”. Pfft

  6. As someone who has been riding for over 40 years i can tell you LOUD pipes DO Save LIVES !! and anyone who says different is either LYING or is CLUELESS (most of the anti loud bike people have never ridden) over the years i have had more than 1 motorist in a car say they were about to pull out because they didn’t see me….but hesitated because they hears me. their as been dozens of times i was in a cars blind spot and they started to come over into my lane and force me toward a guard rail and a quick throttle twist woke them up !! and the part most anti loud pipes forget when out in the evening or at night in wooded area’s the loud pipes scare off animals like Deer and Moose , and large turkeys and other critters that could mess up your night, We bikers have families who care about us grand kids who want to see their papa again………i think y’all can handle the Roar of a motorcycle for a minute or 2 if it gets me home to my grandkids !!

  7. I drive a van for a living, the other day in poor lighting conditions and with the radio on I heard a bike coming towards me, I could not initially see it but the sound made me aware it was there, thus I was looking for it.

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