Trials of ‘noise cameras’ to detect rowdy drivers coming to Bradford, Bristol, Great Yarmouth and Birmingham

  • new noise-detecting traffic cameras deployed in 4 test areas to crack down on ‘boy racers’ racing engines and the use of illegal exhausts
  • trials supported by government investment of £300,000, with annual social cost of road noise pollution estimated at £10 billion
  • Bradford, Bristol, Great Yarmouth and Birmingham have been declared winners of a national host camera competition

A new era road camera designed to identify and track drivers who break the law by revving engines and using modified exhausts will be installed in Bradford today (18 October 2022), before traveling to Bristol, Great Yarmouth and Birmingham in a trial for repression of anti-social conduct.

The Transport Secretary has confirmed that these 4 locations will host the new ‘noise camera’ following a government-backed competition to tackle noise pollution on some of Britain’s noisiest streets.

The new technology uses a video camera in conjunction with a number of microphones to precisely locate excessively noisy vehicles as they pass. This means that if drivers break the law by running their engines unnecessarily or using illegal exhaust, they will be automatically detected. The camera takes a photo of the vehicle and records the noise level to create a digital body of evidence that can be used by local police to fine drivers.

Road noise is known to contribute to health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes and dementia, and the annual social cost of urban road noise, including lost productivity due to sleep disturbances and the costs healthcare, is estimated at £10 billion.

The trials, backed by £300,000, start with the camera in Keighley, Bradford from today and will then be placed in the other 3 locations over the next 2 months.

Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:

Beware of rowdy drivers – these new cameras will help police crack down on those who break legal noise limits or use illegal modified exhausts to make excessive noise in our communities.

We will work closely with local authorities and police to share any findings, and I hope this technology will pave the way for quieter, more peaceful streets across the country.

The department launched a competition to identify areas to house the cameras in April and extensive testing at a private test track facility took place to perfect the technology. Now, in the next phase, the locations for these test drives have been decided based on the impact on local residents of illegal loud vehicles, after deputies across the country have requested that the camera be installed in their area. If successful, the cameras could be deployed across the country.

Gloria Elliott, Executive Director of the Noise Abatement Society EBO said:

Excessively noisy vehicles and antisocial driving cause disruption, stress, anxiety and pain for many people. It is dangerous and disrupts the environment and people’s peaceful enjoyment of their homes and public places.

Communities across the UK increasingly suffer from this completely preventable scourge. The Noise Abatement Society applauds rigorous, effective, and evidence-based solutions to address this issue and protect the public.

Atkins-Jacobs Joint Venture acts as a technical consultant for the trials, providing acoustic expertise, design, modeling and asset management. The noise camera is designed and developed by MicrodB.

Andrew Pearce, Practice Director of the Atkins Jacobs Joint Venture, said:

Real-life testing of the Atkins Jacobs technology solution JV developed and tested on the trail is an important step for the program towards solving a problem that affects many communities across the UK.

We fully expect the trial in these four chosen locations to confirm what we have seen in the trials, which is a very targeted use of technology to ensure that only excessively noisy motorists will be subjected to the application.

Trials will continue for 2 months across the country. The department continues to work closely with all local authorities and deputies to combat noisy and illegal traffic noise disturbances.

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