Fed up with noisy vehicles, including motorcyclists running loud pipes, the UK’s government are looking into new technology to hand out automated tickets.

Governments always run into two problems when they try to fight loud pipes: judges who throw the cases out of court, and insufficient manpower to battle the bikers.

In the old days, it was enough to take a police officer’s opinion on the vehicle noise and accept tickets handed out at their discretion, but judges have been getting all fussy about the wording of the laws around motorcycle exhaust noise. In North America, you often see governments re-wording noise bylaws or regulations to make it easier to nail down offenders. We’d guess this is far less of an issue with Europe, where things like noise pollution are governed by fairly airtight standards.

But even if noise laws are clear and effective, there’s the problem of staffing shortages: how can you justify taking police officers away from fighting dangerous crime to hand out noise tickets? And how can on-foot bylaw officers hand out tickets to moving vehicles?

One solution is to hand out tickets via an automated process, similar to existing speed cameras, which are already very much a staple on Euro highways for much the same reason. With that in mind, the UK is now looking at using the same sort of camera systems that have already been tested in North America (a couple of cities in Alberta, Canada, have worked with the technology).

The idea is that a built-in microphone will sense when a too-loud vehicle is passing, and automated cameras will grab the licence plate to mail a ticket.

Sounds like it could work, maybe? Or maybe not. The problem that authorities ran across in Edmonton, Alberta, was that when the cameras were initially installed without authority to hand out tickets, riders were simply using them as ways to test the loudness of their exhausts. The decibel output was displayed on a sign, similar to what you see with some speed cameras.

Presumably, the Brits would be more cagey about the cameras, and as long as the tickets hold up in court, we could see a massive blow struck against loud pipes in the UK.

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