Flash car fans who insist on making noise face £100 fines as acoustic cameras catch out motorists


Flash car fans who insist on making noise when driving face £100 fines, after almost 10,000 vehicles triggered noise-detecting acoustic cameras in one London borough in the last year alone.

Four cameras were installed in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and between February 2021 and 2022, caught 289 motorists driving their cars at over 100 decibels. For cars registered since 2016, the legal limit is 74dB.

When an increase of 10dB is roughly a doubling of loudness, exposure to more than 85dB for extended periods of time can cause permanent hearing damage. 

The cameras were installed in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and between February 2021 and 2022, caught 289 motorists driving their cars at over 100 decibels. For cars registered since 2016, the legal limit is 74dB. Pictured: Police check the drivers of two Lamborghinis in central London (file photo)

The cameras were installed in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and between February 2021 and 2022, caught 289 motorists driving their cars at over 100 decibels. For cars registered since 2016, the legal limit is 74dB. Pictured: Police check the drivers of two Lamborghinis in central London (file photo)

The loudest vehicle caught of the cameras out of the almost 300 culprits was a Lamborghini, which clocked in at 112.9dB, according to The Sunday Times.

According to the newspaper, BMW drivers were most frequently caught out by the cameras (118), followed by Lamborghini drivers (109), Mercedes drivers (104), Ferrari (88), Audi (77), Land Rover (56) and Porche (31).

A similar scheme that was rolled out in Westminster last month has already caught one motorist driving at 111.1dBs, the Times reported.

Both boroughs are issuing offenders with £100 penalty notices, after discounting any emergency vehicles or drivers who used their horn for a legitimate reason, such as using it to avoid a collision. 

Councils are hoping the fines can help tackle the problem of noise pollution caused by flash cars being driven too loudly, with city centres in particular being used for ‘car meets’ where drivers of cars that have been heavily modified gather to perform stunts and show off their engines.

Like with speed cameras, acoustic cameras are triggered when a car is detected to be breaching the legal noise limit.

This triggers the camera, which takes a picture of the vehicle registration plate which then allows a fine to be sent to the driver of the vehicle. 

However, there are concerns that the cameras can struggle to isolate the individual vehicle making a loud noise on busy roads. 

Experts say that noise can lead to serious adverse health effects, such as an increase in stress levels which in-turn can lead to heart issues. They can also cause problems for pets, with dog owners saying their pooches are distressed by loud cars. 

Like with speed cameras, acoustic cameras are triggered when a car is detected to be breaching the legal noise limit. This triggers the camera, which captures the vehicle's license plate so that the driver can be sent a penalty notice

Like with speed cameras, acoustic cameras are triggered when a car is detected to be breaching the legal noise limit. This triggers the camera, which captures the vehicle’s license plate so that the driver can be sent a penalty notice

According to a study done in 2015, deaths were four percent more common among adults and the elderly who lived near daytime traffic that was more than 60dB, compared to those who lived near traffic that was less than 55dB. 

‘Residents have made it clear to us that many drivers are using our streets as a racetrack. Piloting new noise camera technology last year has helped us catch more of the worst offenders,’ Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Cllr. Johnny Thalassites said in June last year.

‘We are now getting data with cameras in other parts of the borough to see how big this problem is and what more we can do to protect residents and workers from disruptive noise and anti-social driving.’ 

Thalassites told The Sunday Times that the aim isn’t about punishing ordinary drivers going about their day, but rather about targeting those who drive in a way that results in hundreds of complaints over disturbed sleep and intimidation.

‘It’s not about punishing ordinary people who are trying to get around the city to do their business. If you’re driving in a sensible way, this should not catch you out,’ he told the newspaper, adding that he wanted the fines to be increased to £400. 

Mr Thalassites said this would make the acoustic cameras more feasible, as they currently each cost £15,000 to install. 

According to the newspaper, local authorities in both Manchester and Brighton have made inquiries about introducing similar cameras to their city roads.

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