Earlier this year, word came down that the UK government was examining the idea of using noise cameras (basically speed cameras, but with a microphone instead of a radar gun). Now, there are reports the devices are undergoing real-world testing in southern England.
Noise cameras have been in testing in different areas for a few years now, most famously in western Canada, where some of the technology was developed. They’re intended to overcome the biggest problem with enforcement of vehicle noise standards: it’s rarely worth the authorities’ time to dedicate police or bylaw officers to chase down cars or bikes with loud pipes. Instead of having a cop on a corner with a microphone looking for loud pipes, these noise cameras are in place 24/7, constantly monitoring noise levels. When the device detects a vehicle that is making more noise than bylaws permit, it uses a camera to snap a shot of the offender’s licence plate, and mails a ticket to that address. Presto, noise problems solved—no more loud pipes!
Or at least, that’s the plan. When these were initially run out in tests in Canada, they weren’t legally sanctioned to hand out tickets. So, instead, they simply displayed the decibel level of offending vehicles. The outcome was predictable: motorists were coming from all over town to rev their engines in front of the camera, to see who was the loudest.
Well, the brains behind the UK testing have learned their lesson, and aren’t displaying speeds while testing the cameras in the south of England. Instead, Visordown says the cameras have this written on them:
“The purpose of this trial is to determine whether a system of this type is capable of detecting vehicles emitting excessive noise levels or being driven in a way which creates excessive noise. This noise camera is measuring traffic characteristics and noise levels for the trial. No enforcement action is being taken as a direct result of this trial. Data collected from the noise camera is subject to controls on access and processing, in accordance with General Data Protection Regulation principles. No information about drivers or vehicles owned will be obtained.”
So there you have it. For UK readers, don’t be shocked if these start popping up in your area soon, no doubt causing an overwhelming increase in bike fatalities, as everybody knows that loud pipes save lives, right? And loud pipes are exactly what these cameras are intended to fight.