busy road motorway

Noise-detecting traffic cameras to identify antisocial drivers

Noise-detecting traffic cameras that could help identify and track drivers who break the law by revving engines and using modified exhausts are being installed on a trial basis in Bradford.

The new programme, which is part of a trial from the Department for Transport (DfT) to clampdown on antisocial driving, should help to prevent antisocial drivers and reduce noise pollution.

The technology uses a video camera in conjunction with a number of microphones to accurately pinpoint excessively noisy vehicles as they pass by.

This means that if drivers break the law by revving their engines unnecessarily or using illegal exhausts, they will be automatically detected. The camera takes a picture of the vehicle and records the noise level to create a digital package of evidence, which can be used by local police to fine drivers.

Vehicle exhausts and silencers are required to be properly maintained, and not altered to increase noise. Non-compliance can lead to a £50 on-the-spot fine.

Road noise has been found to contribute to health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes and dementia, and the annual social cost of urban road noise, including lost productivity from sleep disturbance and health costs, is estimated to be up to £10bn, the DfT said.

The trials, backed by £300,000 of government funding, start with cameras being installed in Keighley, Bradford from today (18 October) before moving to a further three locations – Birmingham, Bristol and Great Yarmouth – over the next two months.

Transport secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “Rowdy road drivers beware – these new cameras will help the police clamp down on those who break the legal noise limits or use illegal modified exhausts to make excessive noise in our communities.

“We’ll be working closely with the local authorities and police to share any findings, and I hope that this technology paves the way for quieter, peaceful streets across the country.”

The department launched a competition to identify the areas to host the cameras in April and extensive testing at a private test track facility took place to perfect the technology.

The locations for these roadside trials, which will last for two months, have been decided based on the impact to local residents of illegal noisy vehicles, after MPs across the country applied for the camera to be set up in their local area. If successful, the cameras could be rolled out nationwide.

Noise Abatement Society chief executive Gloria Elliott OBE said: “Excessively noisy vehicles and antisocial driving causes disturbance, stress, anxiety and pain to many. It is unsafe and disrupts the environment and people’s peaceful enjoyment of their homes and public places.

“Communities across the UK are increasingly suffering from this entirely avoidable blight. The Noise Abatement Society applauds rigorous, effective, evidence-based solutions to address this issue and protect the public.”

Atkins-Jacobs Joint Venture is acting as a technical consultant for the trials, providing acoustics expertise, design, modelling and asset management.

Atkins Jacobs Joint Venture practice director Andrew Pearce said: “We are fully expecting the trial in these four chosen locations to confirm what we have seen in testing, which is a highly targeted use of technology to ensure only those motorists making excessive noise will be subject to enforcement.”

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