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Noise camera deployed to catch rowdy drivers

The DfT held a competition to select four areas where the £300,000 trial will take place.

17 October 2022

A noise-detecting traffic camera is being trialled to catch so-called boy racers.

The camera has been deployed in the Keighley area of Bradford, West Yorkshire, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced.

It will be moved to Birmingham, Bristol and the Norfolk town of Great Yarmouth over the next two months.

Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said she hopes the technology ‘paves the way for quieter, peaceful streets across the country’ (Aaron Chown/PA)

The DfT held a competition to select the four areas where the £300,000 trial will take place.

This comes amid concerns about the impact on residents from motorists revving engines and using illegal exhausts.

The technology involves a camera and several microphones which can detect noisy vehicles.

The camera records an image of the vehicle and its noise level, creating a “digital package of evidence” which can be used by police to issue fines, according to the DfT.

It was developed at a private test track to prove its accuracy.

The DfT said road noise can contribute to health problems such as heart attacks, strokes and dementia.

It added that the annual cost of urban road noise including lost productivity from sleep disturbance and the impact on health is estimated at up to £10 billion.

Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “Rowdy road drivers beware – these new cameras will help the police clampdown 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.”

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.

Noise Abatement Society chief executive Gloria Elliott 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.”

A collaboration between professional services firms Atkins and Jacobs is acting as a technical consultant for the trial.

Andrew Pearce, practice director of Atkins-Jacobs Joint Venture, 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.”

London’s Westminster Council is already using noise cameras in the areas around Waterloo Place and Exhibition Road.

This was in response to long-term problems with noise and dangerous driving, such as cars performing loud doughnut manoeuvres in the early hours of the morning.

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