“The loud pipe saves lives.” This is a lot of things that motorcyclists like to say, used to defend against exhaust noise from engines and large or modified bicycles. Some people find themselves claiming this defense more frequently: motorcycle noise - especially from Harley Davidson - is usually louder and more destructive than car noise. But this is a feature, not a mistake, many drivers say - because the bigger the bike, the more likely it is to be noticed by other drivers on the road. And, cyclists add that engine and exhaust noise is more efficient than a horn. This is a steady sound, and the sudden snoring distracts the driver of the car, causing them to turn or drift into the lane of the rider.
Whether the loud pipeline really saved lives is still controversial. There is no hard data to support either side, so it becomes a battle of anecdote. It seems that every experienced motorcyclist has a story about his or her almost being hit, before another driver finds it in time. Homeowners are ready to counter with stories about being woken up at night by loud motorcycles.
When it comes to law, the law tends to fight against loud channels. The new bikes come from factories, and the exhaust system complies with noise regulations. Some state laws stipulate that it is illegal to modify the exhaust system of motorcycles to make them louder. However, some police officers admit that they rarely ride bicycles solely for the purpose of implementing noise regulations; more commonly, they use the loud noise of motorcycles as an excuse for crowd control or wake-up checks. In California, the Oakland Police Department’s pipeline on its patrol motorcycle was loud. After a policeman was hit by a car, the driver said he did not hear the bicycle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration may stand with a motorcyclist. As electric vehicles become more popular, the agency is evaluating whether noise should be added to increase attention. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is concerned that silent electric motorcycles and other vehicles will be overlooked in traffic. Of course, the agency is well aware that it is more concerned about the risk of pedestrians than the rider of a motorcycle, but the focus remains: the agency agrees that vehicles that cannot be heard are dangerous. (In 2015, the agency's new noise standards are still in progress.)
In the interest of safety, it's worth noting that there's more than one way to get noticed. Wearing brightly colored safety gear and using lights are two other ways to improve a motorcyclist's visibility.