Automotive

California Wants to Ticket Loud Cars With Traffic Cameras


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Image: Hyundai

Car enthusiasts were freaking out in 2019 when California’s Bill 1824 went into effect. The law was an update to the state’s regulations regarding how much noise a vehicle can emit, and how police could enforce that limit. Now, as Autoweek reports, a new bill could potentially expand vehicle noise enforcement to include the use of sound-detecting traffic cameras.

Before anyone gets mad, it’s important to point out that this bill in no way changes the noise limits themselves, which have been in place for years: 95 decibels max for passenger cars, 80dB max for motorcycles. This bill simply provides law enforcement with a new, automated way to penalize drivers whose vehicles exceed the noise limit.

If the bill is passed, six California cities will participate in a trial program beginning January 1, 2023 and running until December 31, 2027. The cities would receive what’s described as a “sound-activated device” that, according to the bill, will activate “when the noise levels have exceeded the legal sound limit and is designed to obtain a clear photograph of a vehicle license plate.” Thankfully, as Autoweek points out, cities will be required to put up signs notifying motorists before they enter a camera enforcement zone. The first offense gets a warning, with repeat violators receiving a fine.

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The whole bill is actually written to be rather flexible toward motorists. Cities must devise a payment plan for those who cant afford to pay the fines, with deferment options and waivers available as well. And the money generated from these noise violation tickets is intended to go toward “traffic calming measures,” like bike lanes, raised crosswalks, roundabouts, or speed humps, all of which could serve to reduce vehicle noise in neighborhoods even further.

The bill still requires Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature before it goes into effect. Technical details—for example, how a camera can deduce which vehicle on a crowded street is the source of the noise—have not been shared with the public.

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