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DfT to trial ‘noise cameras’ on roads

11/06/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

The Department for Transport (DfT) is planning to run trials of a prototype ‘noise camera’ over the next seven months.

Policeman using computer

It will be carried out at several undisclosed locations as part of an effort to crackdown on vehicles breaking legal noise limits and disturbing communities.

The move follows research commissioned by the DfT which found that a noise camera system could help tackle extremely noisy vehicles which breach legal noise limits.

According to the resulting report, some police forces have been using sound meters for enforcement of the relevant laws while others have continued to rely on the judgement of their officers. It has amounted to a subjective approach with mixed results.

The research considered three options as a step forward: minor improvements to existing digital reporting tools, and two involving the use of an automated noise camera system comprising a video camera, automatic number plate recognition and sound measurement equipment, either testing sound levels against a suitable noise limit or identifying acoustic signatures produced by passing vehicles.

It led to a recommendation of trials involving the use of a noise camera and a suitable noise limit as this matched the current maturity of the technology.

Future opportunity

The report says there is an opportunity to use data collected to characterise the acoustic signatures of excessively noisy vehicles, which could feed into a more sophisticated system when the technology is further developed.

It adds that there is a need for improved guidance on enforcement of the law to provide a more consistent approach around the country.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Noise pollution makes the lives of people in communities across Britain an absolute misery and has very serious health impacts.

“This is why I am determined to crack down on the nuisance drivers who blight our streets. New technology will help us lead the way in making our towns and cities quieter, and I look forward to seeing how these exciting new cameras could work.”

If the trials are successful the DfT will work on recommendations to further develop the system across the UK.

Tony Campbell, chief executive officer of the Motorcycle Industry Association, said: “With growing pressure on the environment, including noise pollution, illegal exhausts fitted by some riders attract unwanted attention to the motorcycle community and do nothing to promote the many benefits motorcycles can offer.

“All manufacturers produce new motorcycles that follow strict regulations regarding noise and emissions and we welcome these trials as a potential way of detecting excessive noise in our community.”

The DfT said studies have found that exposure to noise can have significant physical and mental health implications, with heart attacks, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and stress all linked to long term contact with loud environments.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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