California Bill Proposes Automated Noise Pollution Enforcement

If signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, a new bill would use automated sensors and cameras to enforce decibel limits on cars and motorcycles.

May 12, 2022, 8:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


portrait of woman walking on the city street covering her ears

Fotos593 / Noise pollution

“California has long specified the decibel level at which stock or modified exhaust systems are deemed too loud—95 decibels for cars and 80 for motorcycles built after 1985—and this hasn’t changed,” notes an article by Emmet White in Autoweek. Now, a new bill would implement a five-year automated enforcement pilot program to ramp up enforcement.

“A ‘sound-activated enforcement system’ means sensors are activated when noise levels exceed legal limits, and smart cameras are used ‘to obtain a clear photograph of a vehicle license plate,’ the text of Senate Bill 1079 reads.”

According to the bill, “Signage is required to notify motorists before they enter an enforcement zone. First time offenders will not be charged and only subsequent violations will incur fines. Additionally, participating city governments are required to create payment plans, deferment options, and fine waivers for low-income vehicle owners who demonstrate a temporary or indefinite inability to pay.”

White writes that how well the sensors will function remains to be seen. “It will be curious to gauge the accuracy of the enforcement devices, how manufacturers will continue to alter vehicles for California markets, and if the progressive penalty policies become a blueprint for more equitable traffic enforcement.”

Other states and cities are also experimenting with high-tech solutions to noise pollution as more research reveals the harmful effects of noise on public health.

Thursday, May 5, 2022 in AutoWeek

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