New York City tackles noisy cars

traffic in new york city
  • Sound cameras have been installed across the city to detect vehicles that are too noisy.

  • Loud sounds trigger the camera, which records the plate of the vehicle in question.

  • This has been tested in several other cities, with varying degrees of success.

New York City drivers can be fined if an automated system determines their car is too loud.

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

Although a very noisy city, New York City has one of the strictest noise ordinances in the United States, which limits the level of noise allowed from a multitude of sources such as cars, trucks, airplanes and even construction equipment.

If a noisy vehicle triggers a camera in the city, its license plate is recorded and the owner is fined US$800 (C$1,069) for a first offense and up to US$2,625 (3 C$509) for a third offence.

New York isn’t the only city to tackle its noise pollution problem with such cameras, as many cities around the world, including Paris, are currently testing the technology, with varying results.

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

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

One issue that surfaced almost immediately after the program began was that some drivers used the installed digital soundboards instead of the cameras for competitions with friends, resulting in the opposite of the desired outcome.

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

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Indeed, the cameras were set to trigger when a noise crossed the barrier of 95 decibels, which is what the sirens of emergency vehicles regularly do. This meant that every clip where an emergency vehicle triggered a camera had to be manually reviewed and discarded.

In addition, the evidence recorded by these cameras is difficult to use in court, as drivers may claim that the noise came from another car located out of sight.

This led to Edmonton sending police officers to the noisiest areas of the city to confirm which cars were breaking the law, but this proved very resource intensive.

Additionally, the entire pilot program cost $192,000 for equipment and maintenance, while fines only brought in $98,000.

It will be interesting to see if New York City is able to refine this system and eliminate enough flaws that it serves its intended purpose. In the meantime, the city says it has already fined at least 71 drivers for noise violations.

Source : CBC News et CTV News

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