Thursday, June 8, 2023
News New York City is Cracking Down on Loud Cars

New York City is Cracking Down on Loud Cars

Sound cameras could be a solution to NYC's noise problem, but other cities found flaws with the system.

  • “Sound Cameras” have been installed throughout the city to detect cars that are too loud.

  • Loud noises trigger a camera that takes pictures of the car’s license plate.

  • This has been tested in many other cities, with varying success.

Drivers in New York City can be fined if an automated system determines their car is making too much noise.

The city is currently running a pilot program that has seen the installation of noise-activated cameras throughout its streets in order to issue fines and deter drivers whose modified cars emit too much noise, a growing problem in recent years.

Despite being a very noisy city, NYC has one of the strictest noise ordinances in the United States which limits the level of noise that is allowed to come from a host of sources such as cars, trucks, planes and even construction equipment.

If a loud vehicle triggers a camera in the city, its license plate is recorded and the owner receives a fine of $800 US ($1,069 CAD) for a first offence and up to $2,625 US ($3,509 CAD) if caught for a third time.

New York is not the only city to tackle its noise pollution problem with sound cameras, since many cities around the world, including Paris, are currently testing this technology, with varying results.

Indeed, one place where sound cameras proved more controversial than expected is Edmonton, Alberta.

The Canadian city ran a similar pilot program to NYC’s between 2018 and 2021 and its results showed there are still flaws in the system.

One of the problems that surfaced almost immediately after the program started is that some drivers used the digital sound boards installed in place of cameras to compete to be the loudest, resulting in the reverse of the desired outcome.

The program’s second iteration used cameras such as those installed in New York, but other problems were found.

Indeed, the cameras were set to go off when a noise breached the 95-decibel barrier, which emergency vehicle sirens regularly do. This meant that every clip where an emergency vehicle set off a camera had to be manually reviewed and rejected.

In addition, the evidence recorded by these cameras is difficult to use in court because drivers can claim the noise came from another car just out of frame.

This led Edmonton to send police officers to the city’s noisier areas in order to confirm which cars were breaking the law, but this proved very resource intensive.

Furthermore, the whole pilot program cost $192,000 for the equipment and its maintenance while fines generated only $98,000.

It will be interesting to see if New York City is able to refine this system and work out enough of its kinks to make it serve its intended purpose. In the meantime, the city says it has already fined at least 71 drivers for noise-related offences.

Source: CBC News and CTV News

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