UK noise cameras are coming to silence thunderous exhausts
Gearheads love noisy engines, but this enthusiasm is rarely shared by the general public – hence, the UK is trialing new noise camera technology. Just like speed cameras, they'll sit by the roadside watching and listening 24/7 to identify and ticket vehicles that exceed legal noise limits.
UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is on the warpath, stating that, "noise pollution makes the lives of people in communities across Britain an absolute misery and has very serious health impacts. This is why I am determined to crack down on the nuisance drivers who blight our streets."
As one part of Grayling's approach, a range of online tools will make it easier for people to report noisy vehicles. But there will also be automated noise camera systems put in place. These will comprise video and audio recording equipment, as well as automatic number plate recognition capabilities.
There will be plenty of complexities involved – different vehicle classes can have different noise restrictions. What's more, noise limits on new cars have been progressively tightening between 1978, when they were allowed to make 82 dB, and today's 74-dB limit. Add to that the significant compounding factors of background noise, clanky trailer noise, sirens and noise from other vehicles, and the fact that sound pressure levels change significantly with distance, and measuring these things with any degree of accuracy will be difficult.
Let's face it, though, if something's borderline legal, it's probably not what this program has been designed to attack. We imagine there will be a fair bit of leeway built in, and that only the real tooth-rattlers will be targeted.
That was about the outcome of previous trials of similar technology in Australia, in which a soft enforcement approach was taken to "encourage" owners of noisy trucks to maintain or upgrade their vehicles. A review of previous efforts can be found in the Phase 1 Study Report and Technology Recommendations document that underpins these new measures.
Motorcycle Industry Association CEO Tony Campbell was vocal in his support of the idea: "Illegal exhausts fitted by some riders attract unwanted attention to the motorcycle community and do nothing to promote the many benefits motorcycles can offer."
The system will be trialed over the next seven months, with a view to developing it further if it's successful.
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As far as exhaust noise goes, the racket is only induced when the rider of the hawg hits the throttle, so the same tactic could be used if there's an noise-radar indicator. If not, it's a cat and mouse game. Harley's aren't the only racket-inducing wheels on the road, but I live on a main street where they frequently take advantage when they see no cops around.