Almost 60% of drivers want ‘noise cameras’ rolled out to catch drivers of excessively loud vehicles

A close up of a car exhaust pipe

The legal noise limit for vehicles is 74 decibels

‘Noise cameras’ could be a familiar sight on British roads as support for their use appears to gather momentum.

58% of UK drivers said they would be in favour of the cameras being widely used. Only 22% said they were against the idea, and 20% were unsure. 

The findings come during Department for Transport trials of the technology which began in October last year in Bradford, Great Yarmouth, Birmingham and South Gloucestershire. 

The cameras pick up vehicle noises over the 74-decibel legal limit using a series of microphones. Then, like a speed camera, they take an image of the licence plate which aids the police in finding the culprit. 

What do the public think? 

An RAC Opinion Panel also asked drivers if they thought the current £50 on-the-spot fine was appropriate for breaching the legal volume limit. 39% felt that the fine is fair, 37% disagreed, and 24% were undecided. 

Amongst those who thought the fine wasn’t severe enough, 43% thought drivers should be fined £200, and until their car complied with the decibel limit. Among Londoners, the figure rose by almost two-thirds to 67%. 

The Government estimates the annual social cost of urban road noise, including lost productivity from sleep disturbance and health costs, is up to £10bn. 

Excessive road noise is also known to contribute to several health issues such as strokes, cardiac arrest and dementia. However, there is no requirement for MOT testers to check the noise level of the car exhaust using a decibel meter. 

What causes the noise? 

Drivers revving their engines unnecessarily can cause excessive noise. Another cause is drivers having their cars fitted with modified exhausts, making them much louder and sometimes causing a ‘popping’ sound, which can be very disruptive. 

RAC head of policy Simon Williams says: “Our research with drivers shows there is a very strong desire to put an end to the scourge of excessively noise vehicles” 

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

If you want to know more about what the police are doing to catch drivers breaking the law, check out our blog on how they’re using AI cameras. 

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