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REVVING UP: Drivers back calls for 'Noise Cameras' to tackle illegally loud exhausts

Updated: Aug 20, 2023

In a recent survey conducted by the RAC, it has been revealed that six out of ten drivers in the UK are in favour of the implementation of 'noise cameras' that can automatically detect vehicles with illegally loud exhausts or engines that are needlessly revved.

The findings of the Department for Transport's (DfT) trials, costing £300,000 and which commenced last October, are eagerly awaited by motorists.

Among the participants in the study, only a fifth (22%) expressed opposition to the idea, while a similar proportion (20%) remained unsure of their stance on the matter. In this new system, cameras equipped with microphones are set to identify vehicles surpassing the legal limit of 74 decibels. These cameras, along with recordings of the noisy vehicle and photographs of their number plates, will facilitate the local police in identifying and penalising drivers accordingly. Initially, the trials were conducted in Bradford, Great Yarmouth, Birmingham, and South Gloucestershire near Bristol.

The RAC research further revealed that a significant third of the respondents claimed to frequently hear excessively loud exhausts or engines being revved. This figure was even higher in London, where nearly half of the drivers reported the same issue. Similarly, in Wales and Scotland, 40% of the participants admitted to frequently encountering vehicles with illegal noise levels. Furthermore, half of all drivers stated that they occasionally come across vehicles with particularly loud exhausts.

When asked about the current £50 on-the-spot fine for vehicles that breach the 74-decibel limit, drivers' opinions were divided. Four-in-ten believed that the fine was appropriately set, while 37% disagreed. A quarter remained undecided. Of those who considered the fine insufficient, 43% suggested that it should be increased to £200, along with a driving ban until the vehicle complies with the legal decibel limit. Among the respondents from London, this figure rose to more than two-thirds.

Road noise has long been known to contribute to various health problems, including heart attacks, strokes, and dementia. Surprisingly, there is currently no requirement for MOT testers to utilise decibel meters to check exhaust noise levels. The government estimates that the annual social cost of urban road noise, encompassing lost productivity due to sleep disturbance and health expenses, amounts to a staggering £10 billion.

RAC Head of Policy, Simon Williams, said: “Our research with drivers shows there is a very strong desire to put an end to the scourge of excessively noisy vehicles that disturb the peace all around the country.

“It’s plain wrong that those who have fitted their cars with modified exhausts, some motorbike riders and supercar owners can currently just get away with making an unacceptable amount of noise. Fortunately, the Department for Transport’s recent noise camera trials may provide the solution. We hope the findings are positive and that the technology can be quickly and cost-efficiently rolled out to the worst affected areas.

“There is no good reason why cars and motorbikes should make so much noise, so the sooner effective camera enforcement can be put in place the better.”

Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “Boy racers are an anti-social menace and we have extensively trialled noise camera technology in various parts of the country over the past year.

“We are currently analysing data from the trials and will update in due course on any future measures which will help bring peace and tranquillity back to our towns, cities and villages.”

The London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was the first local authority to trial acoustic cameras in May 2022.


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