They’ve got cameras to catch you speeding, running red lights and borrowing bus lanes… and now, they’re getting noise cameras to prosecute you for having a noisy bike (or car). Welcome to Big Brother Britain.
Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, reckons it’s about time the government put a stop to “unbearable revving engines and noisy exhausts”, so with the help of Atkins-Jacobs Joint Venture, he’s trialing a new technology, worth £300,000, across four areas of England and Wales. These ‘listening cameras’ will be able to detect when a vehicle is making too much noise and, in the future, automatically issue fines to offending motorists.
Exactly how loud a vehicle can be, according to the law, is fairly vague, so I can see this being a difficult one to police. But the law does say that exhausts and silencers must be in good condition, and not altered to increase noise; breaking that particular law (and getting caught, obviously) could land you with a £50 fine.
The tech is still very much in the design stages, so I don’t think we all need to rush out and fit baffles to our exhausts, but this news may well be a sign of things to come.
I don’t really know how I feel about it to be honest. I understand that boy (or girl) racers, or people with ridiculously loud cars and bikes are pretty annoying. The bloke a few doors down from me is a perfect example; on more than one occasion, I’ve felt like pouring a bag of sugar into his fuel tank. But I never have, because I was always taught to live and let live. Is a bit of noise every now and then really worth getting too stressed about? Perhaps it is, if you’ve got to live with it every day. But I find it difficult to sympathise too much with the people that let it ruin their lives. Maybe just put some music on, or something?
What I do object to is more and more cameras on the streets, keeping tabs on us all day, every day. I know there’s an argument to say that “if you’re doing nothing wrong, you’ve got nothing to worry about,” but it’s all getting a little bit overbearing, isn’t it?
I suppose it’s too late for this, but what would be better (than more law-enforcement cameras) would be if people were a bit more sensible with their exhaust pipes and their throttles. As a society, we’ve brought all this on ourselves, really. If people were more considerate and didn’t go drag racing at 2am in residential areas, or went for the sensible aftermarket exhaust, rather than the 120dB ASBO-end-can, we probably wouldn’t find ourselves in this situation.
But we do. And it’s another victory for the Noise Abatement Society.