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.