Highway Noise Barriers and Their Impacts

Noise/sound pollution is quite common, and while it receives lesser attention than concerns such as water pollution, it poses significant challenges. We are always surrounded by noise, but that doesn’t mean that it is all good. Simply put, noise pollution is the propagation of unwanted sound, posing a range of impacts to human/animal life, most of which are harmful to a certain degree. Most noise pollution results from transportation (air and traffic) and other machinery such as from construction undertakings. As transportation is among the most common noise pollution sources, you’ll notice numerous highway noise barriers elected, especially in inhabited areas.

But it is just noise; it won’t kill us. Why do we need the highway noise barrier?  You can easily overlook such noise, but if you live near a highway, you have an idea of how disturbing it can be, not to mention the possible health problems. Prolonged exposure to noise pollution posses a range of serious health concerns, among the most notable including;

  • Tinnitus and hearing lo
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Cardiovascular disease

Poor concentration, communication challenges, and stress are also common effects of noise pollution. This can lead to poor productivity, especially in the place of work. Lack of adequate sleep and stress can further affect your overall health, stressing the need to alleviate noise pollution, which the high say noise barriers address.

A highway noise barrier receives different reactions from various groups. Here is a look at some of the positive and negative receptions commonly observed.


A region’s residents are the primary targets and the most affected people. Noting that the barriers have to be high and long enough to absorb, reflect, or force the sound to take a longer path, they present concerns such as blocking the view and sun. This is a concern that presents a negative reaction from some residents. The feeling of confinement, restricted view of the highway, sunlight being blocked, and circulation concerns make it harder for some individuals to appreciate the noise barriers. Another challenge is poor highway noise barrier maintenance, an issue that affects the aesthetic appeal.

Despite the negative reaction, others appreciate more than noise reduction. With the highway noise barrier, conversations are a lot more productive for individuals living near the highways. They can also sleep better, keep windows open more often, and enjoy their lawns during the warm seasons. Privacy is also an additional benefit that the highway noise barriers offer, not to mention a cleaner environment, allowing their lawns, shrubs, and other plants to do well.


Motorists are perhaps the most affected groups while considering highway noise barriers contributions. While considering the impact on motorists, noise is not the primary concern, rather the view. A common concern that most motorists point out is the feeling of being walled-in while driving adjacent to barriers. This can easily take a toll on your driving endeavors, especially when the highway is not as busy such as during odd hours.  If you aren’t feeling as free and safe, you can easily panic, especially if you come across unusual citing, a concern that could lead to an accident.

The loss of scenic vistas is the other considerable impact the motorists point out while driving in areas with highway noise barriers. A clear view is essential while driving, and with the barriers, especially poorly maintained ones, it is not as comfortable. The walls can also be distracting, especially in areas with graffiti or monotonous display. A quick peep at graffiti could see a motorist losing control of the vehicle and drive into the wall, among other concerns that could cause an accident. The monotonous areas set the wrong moods; an area with a lengthy highway noise barrier, spotting the same color and tone, can cause a soporific effect, making it harder to drive safely.

Poorly marinated highway noise barriers also cause significant risk. You could come across some debris or falling objects from the wall that makes driving in an area changing. This is especially a considerable concern in areas spotting structure-mounted highway noise barriers, as some parts could be loose, meaning that they can easily fall and block the road.

Are highway noise barriers effective?

Whether ground or structure-mounted, highway noise barriers are effective in reducing, not eliminating, traffic noise. The barriers can reduce the noise’s loudness by as much as a half, making an area friendlier. For such effectiveness to be realized, the barrier must be tall ad long enough with no openings. For instance, in an area with openings for diversions and other ways, the barrier’s effectiveness is considerably affected. The barrier is most effective for the first row of homes, typically ranging from 60 to 65 meters of the highway.

While the highway noise barrier substantially lessens the noise levels, its construction shouldn’t discount other elements such as aesthetic appeal regardless of the type and materials used. Preserving the scenic vistas and aesthetic appeal of a region makes the barrier more effective in facilitating a safe and friendly environment. A common misconception with highway noise barriers is that they increase the noise on the other side of the road. The walls only make the noise lesser on the intended area but do not reflect it on the highway’s other side.

Common highway noise barrier materials

Regardless of the material utilized, the barriers are designed to reduce the noise as much as possible. The common materials include earthwork, masonry, concrete, wood, plastic, steel, and composite, to mention a few.  With tech advancements, it is now possible to utilize absorptive materials, which are a lot more effective in mitigating noise than hard surfaces. The absorptive materials do not reflect as much noise back to the source or another direction, making it more effective. With the inclusion of sound-dampening content materials, it is also possible for the barriers o feature advancements such as solar photovoltaic panels, utilized in generating energy without affecting the noise reduction purpose.

Highway noise barriers, if properly elected and maintained, can considerably reduce noise pollution. Their contributions make it easier and healthier to live near the busy highways.

Cheryl Henson

Cheryl Henson is a passionate blogger and digital marketing professional who loves writing, reading, and sharing blogs on various topics.

Related Articles

Back to top button