New York City, NY

Big city traffic cameras now able to ticket drivers for loud vehicles

Alpha Tango
Big Brother WatchingPhoto byKostiantyn LionUnsplash

It is public knowledge to many Americans that they can be under surveillance at places like airports, federal buildings, banks, or even private properties. In some jurisdictions depending on the city you live, the government could be keeping tabs on your movements all throughout the day.

Traffic cameras are some of the original widely implemented surveillance technology. They have been in use for decades, able to take pictures citizens' vehicles and license plates, sometimes also through the windows into the interior. They can be used to measure for speeding, running a red light or other violations, like having an unregistered vehicle.

Lawmakers in New York have added a new feature to many of the speed cameras: sensors that record the sound volume of passing vehicles. A large majority of American cities have laws on the books regarding noise. Citizens and businesses can be ticketed for loud gatherings, or a construction company for example, may be hit with daily increasing fines for creating excess noise pollution.

The Stop Loud and Excessive Exhaust Pollution Act (SLEEP Act) was passed in New York last year, which partially says the goal is to,

...increase enforcement against motorists and repair shops that illegally modify mufflers and exhaust systems to make them excessively noisy.”

Loud vehicles can be assessed up to $800 for the first offense, the Associated Press reported. The fines go up to $2,625 after driver's third offense hearing. At least 71 drivers have been caught by the sound-measuring cameras to date.

This "anti-loud car" program is running in NYC at this time but, if other cities see a benefit, there is a good chance they will also implement it. There are multiple public initiatives that began in The Big Apple, later to be put into other cities. City Bikes are a relatively common example.

Some public advocates and analysts have expressed concern that the cameras may mistakenly also target vehicles to do not have illegal modifications. Some car manufacturers do offer louder sounding exhaust options for certain sport models in their range, as a factory option. Also, many commercial vehicles may have a larger louder exhaust that could trigger the cameras.

What do you think about the sound detecting cameras, targeting after-market and/or louder exhausts?

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