Wrong boom, your lordship

The Brits are apparently upset about Loud Motor Vehicles:

The United Kingdom’s Department for Transport will test noise-detecting cameras across the country over the next 7 months to see if it can adequately detect and identify vehicles modified to emit obnoxious levels of noise when the driver pins the accelerator. The systems are relatively new, though the government says it will recommend further development of the system for deployment across the UK.

As things currently stand, it’s illegal for any new vehicle to exceed 74 decibels in Europe. While your personal car can exceed those sound limits within UK borders, as there’s no formal limit to vehicle noise, it is illegal to modify your car’s exhaust system to make it louder. Sort of a Catch-22, because if your car exceeds 74 dbA, it probably means you’ve modified it.

If you need a reference point for loudness, California Vehicle Code 27151 stipulates that all vehicles under 6,000 pounds (other than motorcycles) must not exceed 95 dbA — roughly the same level as a belt sander or noisy blender. However, 74 dbA isn’t all that far away from your normal speaking voice, and would be akin to the ambient noise of most urban environments. With that in mind, we’re betting those acoustic cameras will be pretty active over the next few months.

Since bad ideas over there sooner or later end up over here, I must point out one minor detail in which the US differs from its cousins in the late, lamented Commonwealth. A slammed Civic with a fart-can exhaust is indeed annoying, but the driver thereof tends to leave a short noise burst and then disappears down the road. Meanwhile, the driver who wants to feel that deep, deep bass and wants everyone around to share it — every American city has many such — can’t possibly disappear quickly enough.


  1. McGehee »

    12 June 2019 · 10:46 am

    The noise that annoys me in traffic doesn’t come from the muffler but from the subwoofers.

  2. fillyjonk »

    13 June 2019 · 3:57 pm

    I still want to have some kind of Royko Clause to the law for those idiots who drive boom cars through residential neighborhoods at a time when it could reasonably assumed most residents would be sleeping (or trying to).

    (The Royko Clause: I remember in one of his columns years back, he advocated for hauling boom cars out to the desert and blowing them up. I think he specified WITH the owner inside them, but I’d be more merciful and merely make the owner watch the explosion from a safe distance)

    While we’re banning things, can we revive the law about “no siren sounds on radio stations that people might be listening to while driving in a car” and also add honking to that list? More than once I’ve been startled and looked around for the ambulance or angry driver, only to find they were in an ad.

  3. CGHill »

    13 June 2019 · 5:49 pm

    More than once I’ve been fooled by R. Dean Taylor’s “Indiana Wants Me,” not least because the version I have — I am told there are others — has the siren in stereo followed by the music in mono.

  4. hollyh »

    14 June 2019 · 2:47 pm

    While we’re ranting about loud motor vehicles, is it wrong of me to be offended by those loud “I’m locked!” beeps. So rude. Everybody else may NOT want to know that your car is happily locked.

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