Technical trials to combat excessive vehicle noise have been welcomed today by Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery after he lobbied ministers for action due to widespread problems in his constituency.
The Department for Transport is financing initial tests to measure the sound levels of passing motorbikes and cars and detect those that are breaking the law. It could use automated number plate recognition to enforce fines.
The move follows pressure by George in Whitehall to find solutions to the growing problem. Motorcycle noise, in particular, is causing residents misery on the A32 and A272 in the Meon Valley.
“This inconsiderate noise by a tiny minority, especially in the summer months, is a major problem in my constituency and others and I’m delighted the Department for Transport has set up this trial,” said George.
“It’s a substantial step forward to solving the complex technical issue of finding a workable solution that can calculate the noise of a vehicle from other background noise, identify it and then offer a realistic prospect of prosecuting the offender.
“I’ve certainly been campaigning for this type of technology to be developed for some time because I know how upsetting vehicle noise is to my constituents and there is clear evidence it affects health too.
“The next step is to ensure one of the trials takes place in the Meon Valley and I will be in contact with ministers and officials to push hard for this to happen.
“I remain hopeful a practical solution can be found. To have government undertake research, then recognise the problem and now finance these trials is clearly good news.”
Experts will assemble monitoring equipment and test at several locations over the next seven months. If the trials are successful, recommendations will be made to further develop the system across the UK and this could lead to the eventual deployment of an effective noise camera in affected communities.
Currently, enforcement is mainly reactive and relies on subjective judgement by the police. The trials will determine suitable noise limits by taking into account the class and speed of the vehicle relative to the location of the noise camera.
Studies have found that exposure to noise can have significant physical and mental health implications with heart attacks, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and stress all linked to long-term contact with loud environments.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling added: “Noise pollution makes the lives of people in communities across Britain an absolute misery and has very serious health impacts.
“This is why I am determined to crack down on the nuisance drivers who blight our streets.
“New technology will help us lead the way in making our towns and cities quieter, and I look forward to seeing how these exciting new cameras could work.”
Current legislation requires all vehicles to meet strict noise limits before they are permitted on the road. Regulation 54 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 requires exhausts and silencers to be maintained in good working order and not altered to increase noise.
The Police are responsible for enforcing these requirements on public roads.
Officers also have powers, under the same regulations to take action if they suspect a vehicle is making excessive noise which is avoidable through reasonable driver care.
They have further powers to address noise nuisance under the Police Reform Act 2002 and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.