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Noise cameras to nab loud exhausts

noise noisy exh plate machismo crackdown

Australian police and transport authorities will monitor the British development and trial of prototype noise cameras that can detect loud motor vehicle exhausts.

The UK Department of Transport will test the prototype cameras in the coming months, but will not fine offenders.


Noise cameras

“New camera technology to be trialled by the government aims to measure the sound levels of passing vehicles to detect those that are breaking the law on noise limits, and could use automated number plate recognition to help enforce the law,” the UK Department of Transport notice says.

“Research commissioned by the Department for Transport, found that a noise camera system could help tackle extremely noisy vehicles which breach legal noise limits.

“It could also help to catch those who rev car or motorcycle engines beyond legal limits, making life a misery for those who live close by.”

While the UK DoT could not supply us with any images of the camera, they did provide this tiny drawing showing a camera pointed at an oncoming car.

noise cameras
(Image: UK Department of Transport)

Surely the camera should be behind the vehicle!

The DoT says exhaust noise enforcement is reactive and relies on the subjective judgement of police which some motorcycle representatives claim is fatally flawed.

However, the noise cameras would take away the subjectivity and provide authorities with a method of fining offenders like a speed camera.

Call to challenge exhaust noise fines sign noise cameras
Police conduct roadside noise test at Mt Tamborine

Australia is watching and listening

We contacted police and road authorities in each state to gauge their interest in the noise cameras.

We received mainly non-committal replies saying they monitor the development and introduction of all traffic enforcement technologies around the world.

WA Police were the only ones to admit they are aware of the UK prototype noise cameras.

“While there are no current plans to trial such a camera in Western Australia, as with all emerging technologies, WA Police Force will monitor the activity in the UK and seek information on its operational effectiveness,” a media spokesperson told us.

Meanwhile, Queensland Transport and Main Roads has trialled other equipment but only to detect noise levels of heavy vehicles.

“Although the technology can potentially be used for detecting noisy, modified or defective exhausts in light vehicles and/or motorcycles there is currently no plan to extend the trials or legislation to include those vehicles, in Queensland,” a spokesperson says.

“Light vehicles and motorcycles do have to comply with the vehicle noise standard (ADR83/00) which defines the limits on external noise generated by all light and heavy vehicles, motorcycles and mopeds in order to limit the contribution of motor traffic to community noise. It is the owner’s responsibility to ensure noise emissions comply with current standards.”

UK Motorcycle Industry Association CEO Tony Campbell supports the trial.

“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,” he says.

“All manufacturers produce new motorcycles that follow strict regulations regarding noise and emissions and we welcome these trials as a potential way of detecting excessive noise in our community.”

  1. Bring it on! The apparent total lack of interest by police in ridiculously noisy cars and bikes is unacceptable.

    1. Highest death rate on the roads and completely ignored by the “SAFETY” authorities. Push bike have 1 or 2 fatalities per year on average yet they spend millions to build bike paths, largely unused, change road rules for better safety of push bikes which directly reduce the safety of motorcycle riders by car drivers pushing into oncoming lanes with a might has right mentality. A loud noise for a few seconds as it passed isn’t much to deal with. “Monitor the development” is just another way of say observe the income stream.

      1. Yeah you are wrong. Be near a road where they are going by all day Saturday and Sunday. It’s not one it’s is 50. All dragging away from every red light. Screaming for attention like the posers they are. Facts are loud pipes don’t save lives. The majority of fatal crashes involving motorcycles were caused by the motorcycle rider, at least according to a 2007 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the report, it was noted that 45% of fatal motorcycle crashes are single vehicle (meaning the motorcycle, alone), and that among the remaining 55%, in nearly 75% of the two-vehicle crashes, the motorcyclist was deemed responsible. That said, the classification of single vehicle crashes that accounts for 45% of all fatal motorcycle crashes does include “run-off-road collisions.” I ride. Over 20 years on road time and more off road dirt riding. Never had to have straight through pipes on my bike. But I’m not a poser. Loud sounding engines have become a signature of this particular brand of motorcycle, leading to the real problem- many who buy Harleys are not satisfied with the legally regulated stock noise of the engine and instead choose to swap out the existing exhaust systems for straight pipes that don’t really mute the engine noise at all. This results in sound that can exceed 100 decibels when revved up.

        This is extraordinarily loud, and could even do damage to human hearing. At just 94 decibels (dB) only one hour of exposure can damage your hearing, while at 100 dB, a mere 15 minutes of exposure will do the trick. Needless to say, the Harley aficionados who make these modifications and don’t wear proper hearing protection while riding pay a long-term, ear-ringing price for making their engines sound more powerful.

        Given this sort of extreme noise pollution, there has been a backlash against noisy bikes in recent years, with many local communities placing restrictions specifically on motorcycle noise, and others banning them altogether.

        One such effort is EPA stamp enforcement. Motorcycles are supposed to display EPA stamps on their chassis and exhaust systems that match each other to ensure the system hasn’t been modified. While previously enforcement has been lax, more recently communities are mandating compliance, including Denver, CO (2007), Boston, MA (2009), Arvada, CO (2009), Portland, ME (2009), Green Bay, WI (2009) and the State of California (2010)

        So strong is the outcry that the President and COO of Harley-Davidson, Jim McCaslin, posted a message on the company’s website in 2009 imploring bikers to not modify their bikes to make them louder. While loud, powerful sounding engines on Harleys in the past have been something of a selling point, McCaslin noted the backlash over the noise today is beginning to cause problems. He further implied that unless bikers piped down, regulations and laws would continue to be put in place until Harley-Davidson could no longer sell its loud motorcycles and the bikes already on the road might ultimately be banned completely.

        McCaslin also directly addressed the custom of modifying the exhaust to get more power:

        Testing has proven that straight pipes do not necessary outperform pipes with lower noise levels. Pick the wrong pipes and you can severely reduce your horsepower and/or your torque. And while you’re doing it, you’ll awaken the sleeping giant of social concern that lives next door to all of us.

        Harley-Davidson has also taken steps to eliminate the modifications by no longer shipping racing exhaust systems that can work on street models to dealers.

        And now Harley make an electric bike. I say ban them all off the road. If you want to piss everyone off you deserve everything you get. Become a part of society, put the mufflers back on. You will enjoy your riding more and so will everyone else.

  2. Sirens are terribly noisy and wake me more than loud vehicles. Ban Sirens! Also my message keeps me awake at night. Ban mortgages!

  3. How does one “rev a car or motorcycle engine beyond legal limits”? Rev limits are set by the engine designers and manufacturers according to mechanical tolerances, surely? What legal authority sets otherwise?

  4. Ever consider that the ‘noise’ emitted by these vehicles may actually be keeping riders alive? With an aging population, an increase in technological distractions and the declining skill of Australian drivers, the fact that motorbikes can be heard from a long way off may be the only thing keeping riders alive. Riders already battle an alarming death rate, it would be irresponsible for the Australian Police to enforce these laws without properly addressing the more important issue of rider mortality. If they need increased revenue why not fine people who are involved in accidents? If you stuff up or are incapable of avoiding an accident shouldn’t you pay for your incompetence? Food for thought…

  5. I can see the marketing now – Every Db over is a killer!

    A country fixated on automated policing and automated fines!

    While we still dig coal out of the ground in this country we cannot argue the environmental side of “illegal” exhaust modifications.

  6. That’s okay, I’ll take my straight piped MT07 and hold in the clutch as I ride past these cameras. And then proceed to go and rev my head off at local police stations and government buildings. Revenue raising pigs. uWu mY eArS hUrT uR gOnNa GeT a FiNe MiStEr!!

    1. I’ve got a stock MT07 Tracer, a very quiet bike stock. What sort of sound does the straight pipe produce?

  7. Thing is, nobody really gets a loud exhaust because “loud pipes save lives” that’s just an excuse for “I want my bike to sound loud because I think it’s cool”.

    The same type of guys who cruise around with loud exhausts in their cars, are the ones riding around with loud pipes on their bikes.

    No study to date has shown that loud pipes might keep you safe and I honestly wonder how it’s all supposed to work when most of the sound from a motorcycle exhaust is coming out the back end. I’ve had guys pass me with obnoxiously loud pipes and I only heard them when they started to pass me.

    So if there isn’t a clear safety advantage then I don’t see where this “two-wheeled exceptionalism” is going to get the community. I think we should just all accept that it would be far better for the public image of motorcycling, if we all had sensible pipes on our bikes. Nobody thinks you’re cool when you ride through peaceful suburban streets on your straight pipe Harley. They think you’re an absolute moron.

    If you aren’t genuinely invested in improving our image as a community, then you don’t deserve to ride.

  8. There is one already on Mt Ousley, near Wollongong, primarily to catch noisy trucks. Don’t know the success rate

  9. I rode my mx bikes as a kid with a quieter exhausts. Rode for hours till Joe thick head turned up noisey as hell and cops arrived 20 min later. Most people appreciate a nice rumble but the straight out and ground pounder pipes were once again going to screw all of us. Some riders never learn. So we all pay the price. Again!!

  10. Bring it ON
    If my car made half as much noise as the motorbikes in Townsville I would be put off the road.

  11. Horay, .. horay, horay, horay. All these self centred people with great vitality who can take 100x the noise and enjoy it, telling other people what they can do with their space, scaring sick and elderly people half to death, with their head screaming few seconds they can’t even notice too much, because they are making the noise and their brain turns their hearing down as they do it Bike impounding and crushing is appropriate. Jerks.

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