'Noise camera' aims to catch excessively noisy vehicles

New camera technology will support a crackdown on cars and motorbikes that are excessively loud.

A prototype noise-detecting camera has been commissioned by the UK Government and will be tested at several locations over the next seven months.

The aim is to catch passing vehicles that are breaking the law on noise limits and disturbing communities.

Operating like a speed camera, if a microphone in the acoustic camera detects a vehicle breaching legal noise limits it triggers a camera to take pictures of the vehicle. The vehicle owner then receives a fine.

Currently, enforcement of vehicle noise legislation is mainly reactive and relies on subjective judgement, the Department for Transport explained.

The trials of the new technology will determine whether the legal noise limit has been breached by taking into account the class and speed of the vehicle relative to the location of the noise camera.

Studies show that exposure to noise can have a significant impact on physical and mental health, with heart attacks, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and stress all linked to long-term contact with loud environments.

All vehicles are required to meet strict noise limits before they are allowed on the road. Once a vehicle is in service, exhausts and silencers must be maintained in good working order and not altered to increase noise.

With police resources stretched, the cameras could help to enforce noise regulations on "boy racers in souped-up vehicles", Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said.

The Motorcycle Industry Association also welcomed the trials as a potential way of reducing nuisance noise.

Its chief executive Tony Campbell 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."

If the trials of the new camera are successful, recommendations will be made to further develop the system across the UK.

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