Column – Is vehicle flatulence adding to traffic deaths?

Published 6:00 pm Friday, February 10, 2023

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There were 42,915 traffic deaths in the United States last year. That’s up 10% from the previous year. I think the primary cause may be vehicular flatulence.

There seem to be a great number of 28-32 year olds who want you to know just how cool they are. To get your attention they remove, alter, customize the mufflers on their vehicles.  

The result?  Loud crass noises that scream “Look at me! Look at me! I’m (cool, trendy, important, bad, rad, etc. , etc.).”

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Their favorite spot seems to be at traffic lights. At the “go” green, they GO loudly.  Quickly. (Dangerously). This used to be the province of big motorcycles alone.  Now it’s advertising any sports vehicle at all — car, truck, van, whatever.

And heaven forfend one of these should be behind you, say 20 feet from your rear bumper — even at 60 miles per hour.  If there’s no room to pass in the fast lane, they’ll pass on the right, at 75 mph., loudly and dangerously.

The noise may range from high pitched screams to bees buzzing in a tin can,  to deep, deep power compression, to…well…to the sound of flatulence. Some even have the odor component as well in their blue haze.

If memory serves me, these car noises used to be regulated when the vehicle was inspected. There was an actual decibel limit.  

Neither the noises nor the speed limits seem to be enforced or controlled any more.  

The 45,915 lives lost to traffic accidents in 2022 is a lot. I wonder how many of them were killed by “car farts.”

Susan and Bradford “Biff” Andrews are retired teachers and master naturalists who have been outdoor people all their lives, exploring and enjoying the woods, swamps, rivers and beaches throughout the region for many years. Email them at