Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Nostalgia or Noise Pollution?

In Great Britain, as in the United States, the sound of an ice cream truck (in the U.K., known as an “ice cream van”) playing musical selections is a common sound during the summer months. Recently, however—perhaps due to the added pressure created by the upcoming Olympic Games?—some government officials have claimed that the music has gone on too long and has to stop.

It all started after the Prime Minister, David Cameron, dredged up some long-forgotten rules dictating when, how, and where an ice cream van can play its jingles. He meant to use the regulations as an example of the government’s excessive intrusion into private life, but his comments got some folks from the Noise Abatement Society thinking. In answer to your question: Yes, the Noise Abatement Society is a real group.

The NAS (see, it looks more official when you just use the initials) decided that it was time to push for more restrictions on ice cream music. They call it “noise pollution” that contributes to kids’ ability to pester their parents to get what they want. After all, no other industry is allowed to advertise its product or service by broadcasting its message directly into people’s homes from the street. And is it really right to target little kids and try to convince them to buy fattening ice cream?

Let’s review what rules are already in place, the rules that David Cameron mentioned: An ice cream van may only play music between 12 and 7 PM. If it is stopped, driving near a school, or within sight of another ice cream truck, it may only play a four-second snatch of music once every three minutes. Oh, and it can’t play music on the same street twice within a two-hour period. That’s right—those are the rules that the NAS wants to make even more strict.

Only time will tell whether British neighborhoods will continue to enjoy (or cringe at) the sounds of ice cream truck songs. In any case, the Prime Minister seems to have opened a can of worms that ended up being bigger than he anticipated. If you happen to own a truck of your own, or if you’re simply interested in finding out exactly how a driver chooses his truck’s song, you can find it all on our website. There’s more to it than you might think!

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