‘Noise camera’ prototypes for sound pollution crackdown

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Published on 11 June 2019 by Mike Waters

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Filed under Category: The world of motorcycling

Prototype ‘noise cameras’ designed to detect illegally loud vehicles are to be tested over the next seven months, the Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed.

While excessively loud vehicle noise is against the law, current enforcement strategies have long been criticised as too slow and reactive to be useful in many circumstances and gathering sufficient evidence for a prosecution is often impractical. However, the new cameras could help enforce the existing law by detecting vehicles which are excessively loud and by using automated number plate recognition to identify them like a conventional speed camera.

A closer reading of the DfT’s announcement does leave some questions unanswered, however. One significant omission is any mention of the age of the vehicle, which could mean that older vehicles that don’t meet current standards for which they were not designed may be penalised. Furthermore, there is a lack of information about the trial’s financial structure – if those enforcing the law with these new noise cameras also get to keep the revenue from fines, for example, safeguards of some kind to prevent abuse will be necessary.

Motorcyclists have often been on the receiving end of complaints about noise, whether fairly or otherwise, and that the actions of a minority can affect public perception of bikers as a whole is a longstanding problem. In light of this, this DfT’s news has been welcomed by Tony Campbell of the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), who said: “With growing pressure on the environment, including noise pollution, illegal exhausts fitted by some riders attract unwanted attention to the motorcycle community and do nothing to promote the many benefits motorcycles can offer. All manufacturers produce new motorcycles that follow strict regulations regarding noise and emissions and we welcome these trials as a potential way of detecting excessive noise in our community.”

The DfT has also confirmed that noise cameras tests will take place at “several locations” and that “if the trials are successful, recommendations will be made to further develop the system across the UK.”

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