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Route to peace and quiet… roads made of old tyres: Recycled rubber could soon be used to resurface nation’s busiest roads

If you are driven to distraction by the noisy traffic outside your house, this could be the road to a good night’s sleep.Recycled car tyres could soon be used to surface roads across the country after a pioneering trial found they made roads quieter.One of the busiest roads in Scotland was resurfaced last year with the asphalt, containing shredded rubber from old tyres. Tests were performed on grip and skid resistance, with engineers reporting that the rubber road, on a stretch of dual carriageway between Perth and Dundee, resulted in a quieter drive. The surface is also more environmentally friendly. Since 2006, EU rules have banned the disposal of tyres in landfill sites, leaving about 480,000 tonnes of recyclable shredded rubber each year.

Experts claim the road requires less maintenance and still allows for drainage, while tyre recyclers claim the technique will also save money because the new material is thinner than standard roads.Rubber roads were first built in the 1960s in the US, where today there are 20,000 miles of road made of recycled tyres. 

Rubber roads are also popular in China, Brazil, Spain and Germany.The technique has been found to cut traffic noise by about 25 per cent.The asphalt is made by breaking down used tyres into rubber ‘crumbs’ which are added to bitumen and crushed stone, which are typically used to make asphalt.

Experts say it makes roads quieter because the rubber thickens the bitumen – the binding agent which keeps the crushed stones together – allowing the road surface to trap and disperse sound waves. The rubber material is also springy and absorbs sound.

Reducing road noise could save lives. According to the World Health Organisation, around one heart attack in every 50 in European countries is caused by chronic exposure to loud traffic. It can also cause mental health problems and hormonal imbalances.

A spokesman for Transport Scotland said: ‘This adopts a sustainable approach in making the best use of resources available, by re-using an abundant waste material.’

Source: The Daily Mail

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