Noise cameras across the UK to catch drivers of offensively loud vehicles

Just a fifth (22 per cent) of respondents to a poll of 1,424 motorists commissioned by the RAC voted against the idea, with a similar proportion (20 per cent) unsure about the technology being rolled out across the UK.

The Department for Transport (DfT) began a £300,000 trial of noise cameras in a handful of areas in England in October last year, while the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea has been operating acoustic cameras for over three years.

The technology, which are now used heavily in Paris, involves using a camera and several microphones to detect noisy vehicles.

The cameras, which are triggered by a number of microphones, can pinpoint vehicles exceeding the legal noise limit as they pass by. 

Pictures of vehicle number plates together with recordings of the vehicle noise are then used by local police to identify and fine drivers. 

As well as the capital, trials have taken place in Bradford, Great Yarmouth, Birmingham and South Gloucestershire near Bristol. 

The legal noise limit for cars in the UK is 72 decibels for cars registered after 2016. 

Earlier models - those registered between 2007 and 2016 - should be no louder than 74 decibels.

And while many motorists think a vehicle's noise level is tested during an MOT, garages carrying them out are not legally required to use a decibel meter, meaning it's left up to the discretion of testers to decide whether a car is too loud or not.

In April last year, former Transport Minister Grant Shapps declared he wants to 'banish the boy racer' from our roads with noise cameras to catch 'rowdy drivers' who are 'ruining peace and quiet' for locals 'by revving engines and causing excessive noise with illegal exhausts'.

His department invited MPs to enter a competition to find the noisiest streets in England and Wales amid concerns about the impact on residents.

A third (34 per cent) of drivers surveyed for the RAC said they regularly heard revving engines or excessively loud exhausts around where they live.

This rose to nearly half of drivers in London (47 per cent) and to two in five (40 per cent) in Wales and Scotland. 

Half of all drivers (51 per cent) questioned said they occasionally hear one or more vehicles with particularly loud exhausts. 

Between June 2021 and February 2022, some 10,000 vehicles were recorded breaking the noise limit in the London borough, 289 of which were caught producing in excess of 100 decibels - well over the legal limit. 

In once instance in that period, a Lamborghini was measured at a staggering 112 decibels - that's more than a jackhammer (102 decibels) and a Bell J-2A helicopter flying just 100ft above your head (100 decibels).

Road noise has been found to contribute to health problems including heart attacks, strokes and dementia. 

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