Acoustic Cameras: What are They?

Motorists who drive vehicles that breach legal noise limits could soon have to pay a fine if new acoustic cameras are listening in. The Department for Transport is considering testing cameras that detect noise in real time.

These cameras will reportedly be placed in a variety of locations until approximately January 2020. This move has come after campaigners who live in rural areas have complained.

The complaints are about excessive noise from modified vehicles.

Working Similar to a Speed Camera

An acoustic camera works in almost the same way as a speed camera works. If the microphone in the camera detects a noise level that breaches legal noise limits a photograph will be taken of the offending vehicle’s number plate.

It will also photograph any image that is considered to be relevant so the owner of the vehicle receives a letter. However, as yet, the legal noise level has yet to be determined.

The Transport Secretary Chris Grayling was reported as saying that the acoustic cameras could help the police. They can help to combat noise pollution that is typically caused by boy-racers.

Cars that many boy-racers drive have typically been adjusted so they make as much noise as possible.

Commonplace Technology 

The technology that could soon be commonplace on the UK’s roads could provide something of relief to communities. These are communities who allegedly have to put up with too much noise.

Those who are acting illegally will be prosecuted and this is apparently a simple way to ensure they are.

The Motorcycle Industry Association

It’s not only drivers of cars who are to be targeted, those who ride their motorcycles and cause a lot of noise will be affected. This may come relief for many rural communities who hear excessive noise during anti-social hours.

The chief executive of the Motorcycle Industry Association Tony Campbell said companies who manufacture motorcycles need to be aware. This is because they have a vital role to play in how much noise their motorcycles produce.

After a while, it may, therefore, become a lot harder to tamper with cars and motorcycles so they create a lot more noise. However, it is not yet clear what’s going to happen to motorcycles that have already been tampered with.

Health Impacts

Noise pollution has some very serious health impacts for communities across the UK. Many people have complained of headaches, anxiety and stress associated with noise pollution.

These are potentially health conditions that could lead to more serious health consequences. This is just one of the reasons why the Transport Secretary is determined to prosecute noisy drivers.

The UK’s Current Noise Limit

In the UK, the current noise limit is 74 decibels for new vehicles. 74 dB is the equivalent to the same amount of noise that a flushing toilet or a vacuum cleaner produces.

Prolonged exposure to noises that are above 90 decibels can cause hearing loss, albeit gradual. This is because the tiny hairs in our ears which pick up noise are, in effect, blown over by loud noises.

When the hairs are blown over they are unable to stand back up again. This ultimately means that the hairs can no longer hear sounds.

The more hairs that are blown over (regardless of the sound sources), the less someone is able to hear.

How Will the Acoustic Cameras Work?

An acoustic camera works in almost the same way as a speed camera works. If the microphone in the camera detects an illegal noise level it will take a photograph. The photograph will be taken of the vehicle’s number plate.

The number of microphones that an acoustic camera will have is not yet clear. However, they do seem to be yet another way for the government to take even more money from drivers.

How Much will Drivers be Fined?

It is not yet clear how much drivers will be fined. Perhaps the government will decide that those who break the ‘Acoustic limit’ will have to pay as much as a speeding driver.

A speeding driver currently as to pay at least £100 or attend a speed awareness course. We cannot say for sure what the ‘acoustic limit’ fine will be.

Is There a Limit to How Many Times Drivers will be Fined?

At the time of writing, we can only speculate about this. Perhaps the courts will decide that you can be fined as many times as they want to find you.

However, there may also consider other options. You might have 3 chances to alter the noise level before your vehicle is seized, for example.

What About Vehicles That Have Already Been Tampered With?

It is hard to say what will happen to vehicles that have already been tampered with. If the microphone in the camera detects an illegal noise level it will take a photograph.

The photograph will be taken of the vehicle’s number plate. The owner of the vehicle is then likely to receive a letter in the post.

The letter will talk about their alleged noise level and they be informed that a response is required.

Are Acoustic Cameras Really necessary?

Some people will say that acoustic cameras are necessary but most are unlikely to agree. Most vehicles do not break the legal limit and are unlikely to do so until or if the limit is lowered.

This scheme could ultimately be yet another way for the government to fine drivers who already pay them enough money every year.