Edmonton to crack down on loud vehicles with photo radar-style tech

Published Saturday, August 18, 2018 11:42AM EDT
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Drivers in Edmonton are accustomed to roadside cameras watching for dangerous driving and issuing tickets for speeding or running red lights.

But the city could soon be the first in North America where cameras will not just watch, but listen to drivers, and issue them tickets for driving too loudly.

After fielding complaints from residents for years about excessive vehicle noise, city officials will begin a four month-long pilot project to collect noise data using “vehicle noise monitoring stations”—cameras similar to photo radar, but that can detect sound.

The project, which will run from mid-August to November, will collect data from microphones with built-in cameras mounted in four areas of the city notorious for noise pollution.

If the microphone detects a vehicle going above a certain decibel level, the device’s camera will snap a picture of the car’s licence plate and the driver can expect a ticket in the mail.

Four additional LCD screens installed in different areas of the city will tell drivers with modified mufflers how loud they are, much like roadside speed warning signs that tell drivers in real-time how fast they are driving.

“The people are really suffering from this,” Edmonton city councillor Ben Henderson told CTV Edmonton. “There’s a huge impatience for us to get something far more effective out there to deal with what’s a real problem in the core of the city.”

The microphones would automate enforcement of the Traffic Safety Act provisions that pertain to excessive vehicle noise. Noisy car drivers can already be fined upwards of $115, while those that exceed any of the three decibel levels set for motorcycles can be fined $250.

City officials say that they do not believe the roadside microphones will tempt drivers to test their output and see what they can get away with.

“It’s not going to actually see the highest level you’re going to,” Gary Shimko, an official of the City of Edmonton, told CTV Edmonton. “That would be absolutely counterproductive for the neighbourhood.”

The pilot project will be focused solely on collecting data and will not issue tickets just yet. City officials will review a report based on the findings of the pilot project and then decide whether to move forward with the program.

Edmonton would not be the first city in the world to employ noise monitoring stations to crack down on noisy drivers. Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, installed similar technology in 2016, according to The National newspaper.

A mic and camera mounted at Jasper & 122st, 1/4 in a 4 month noise monitoring pilot in @CityofEdmonton Next week 4 LCD decibel feedback signs will be installed. Eventually you could get a noise ticket in the mail #yeg #yegcc pic.twitter.com/3qRsgVHO2q

— Jeremy Thompson (@JThompsonCTV) August 17, 2018