For those who live along a popular route for motorcycles, the noise speed camera can make a lot of difference. Once this speed camera, which automatically issues a fine to motorbikes and cars with a noisy exhaust, has made its appearance, it is expected that peace will return. Despite the fact that noise speed cameras are being tested in various cities in the Netherlands, it will be years before this new speed camera will issue its first fine. The municipality of Amsterdam regrets this. In this municipality, the noise speed camera will soon be used to alert drivers to the noise nuisance they cause.

Irritation about noise nuisance is increasing

It is not surprising that work is being done on a noise speed camera. The number of motorcycles has risen sharply in recent years (CBS). Among all those motorcycles there are also motorcyclists who modify their exhaust in such a way that maximum noise is produced. They enjoy accelerating loudly at a traffic light or driving through the city at high speed. Local residents sometimes go crazy with the noise, especially if they are bothered by it almost every day. They really see the noise speed camera as a solution. They hope that more work will then be done to combat this form of noise nuisance.

What is a noise speed camera?

A noise speed camera can be compared to an ordinary speed camera. An ordinary speed camera detects speeding vehicles and takes a picture of them. That photo with the measured speed is sent to the CJIB, which then imposes a fine on the owner of the vehicle based on the amount of the speeding violation. If you receive such a fine that you believe is unjustified, you can appeal against it. You must then be able to demonstrate why you wrongly received that fine. A noise speed camera does not measure the speed, but the noise level produced by the vehicle. If it is above a certain level you will be fined.

There are different types of noise speed cameras

How does a noise speed camera work?

A noise speed camera is a box containing 4 microphones. Together, these microphones can detect exactly where a sound is coming from. They can therefore also ‘see’ exactly which car or motorcycle is making too much noise. By linking the noise speed camera to a ‘regular’ speed camera, the license plate of the culprit can be read, so that the same principle as for speeding can be used to fine offenders. The police then no longer need to spend manpower on tackling noise nuisance in the cities. This is currently still done ‘manually’ with a suitcase full of recording equipment.

The noise speed camera is a further development of an existing idea. There are about 40 of these poles in the center of Paris. They are not used to deal with traffic noise nuisance. They are located near noisy bars and report any noise nuisance caused by music or screaming visitors.

The noise speed camera for noisy motorists and motorcyclists will be tested in the coming years, including in Paris. At the moment, the technology is not yet reliable enough to be able to use the noise speed camera.

Rules for noise from cars and motorcycles

It is not the case that without a noise speed camera the police have no options to deal with the nuisance caused by noisy vehicles. There are standards for the amount of noise that may be made by an exhaust. If that standard is exceeded by 5 decibels, the owner of the vehicle will be fined ±€400. That in itself is a clear rule, but it is difficult for the police to enforce. This is because possible offenders must first be apprehended. Then they have to go to a special test location to have them officially tested how much noise their means of transport produces. Because that is so much work, tackling noise nuisance by road users has a low priority for the police.

Further development of the noise speed camera

Although the noise speed camera works well in itself, the results are not yet such that the police can already use them to fine offenders. That is why extensive tests are being carried out, including in the municipality of Amsterdam. There, four noise speed cameras will be placed in the center of the city near busy intersections. Initially, these noise speed cameras will be used to perfect the system and automate the processing of fines towards offenders. The police are prepared to put more effort into tackling noise nuisance in traffic, if this is less labour-intensive due to the noise speed camera.

Where is the noise pollution greatest?

The noise nuisance from motorcycles in particular is greatest on the routes where motorcyclists tour a lot in good weather. Most of them have engines whose sound is well within the standards, but a relatively small number take pleasure in preparing the exhaust and regularly tearing away at full throttle and a roaring engine. The residents of those routes will of course suffer from this, especially if it happens more often. Requests have therefore been submitted to the municipalities in many places in the Netherlands to tackle noise nuisance on these tourist routes.

As already indicated, in the big cities there is also a lot of trouble with engines with a noisy exhaust. Groups of motorcyclists like to tear through the city at full throttle and accelerate at traffic lights with a lot of noise. With the current techniques and regulations, the police hardly have a grip on these motorcyclists. They are very fast and take different routes every time, making them difficult to stop for an exhaust test. At the noise speed camera it is not necessary to stop the offenders. They will automatically receive their fines at home. That is why the police in the big cities expect a lot from the noise speed camera. It is not yet known where the noise speed camera will be placed in Amsterdam.

Motorcyclists also expect a lot from the noise speed camera

There is also a large group of motorcyclists who welcome the arrival of the noise speed camera. Most motorcyclists are very annoyed when popular routes over the dikes are closed to them in advance due to expected noise pollution when the weather is good. They are afraid that the noise makers will cause all motorcyclists to be tarred with the same brush. According to the motorcyclists, this is unjustified, because their fun is spoiled by a small group of motorcyclists, who are responsible for the nuisance. They estimate that this group is no larger than a few percent of motorcyclists and hope that placing a noise speed camera along the beautiful tours can improve the situation for everyone.

Long term solution

Experts expect that the noise speed camera will be years away. There is existing legislation for the amount of noise that may be produced by an exhaust, but there are no legal provisions to be able to issue a fine based on a measurement with a noise speed camera. That legislation needs to be developed nationally. This is expected to take many years.

Meanwhile, the noise speed camera can only be used for testing purposes. The advantage of this is that it can be perfected. The noise speed camera will also be used preventively in several large cities in the coming years. Noisy road users will then be confronted with their behaviour. Fines cannot be issued for this. It is not yet known how the offenders will be notified of the nuisance they cause.

Isn’t the noise speed camera too late?

The first noise speed camera will probably be taken into use in 2030 in a major city in the Netherlands. There is a good chance that Amsterdam will get the scoop. But the noise speed camera is almost mustard after the meal. Because there is already a decision that from 2030 no more vehicles that cause emissions may enter the city. The only vehicles that will still be driving around are electric. It is expected that electric vehicles can move almost silently.

Developments elsewhere in the world

In the Netherlands, there is particular interest in the noise speed camera from the municipalities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Amsterdam is going to work on developing the pole further. In Rotterdam, the noise speed camera is used to prevent nuisance from traffic along terraces. It is not yet clear how exactly this will take shape. For the time being, there is no known municipality that intends to use the pole on the well-known tourist routes, such as dike roads.

Except in the Netherlands, there are only initiatives related to the use of the noise speed camera in Paris, but developments there are also very slow. In Paris, the pole will also be used in a number of pilots. But also in France, legislation must first be formulated to make it possible to really tackle offenders on the basis of the measurements of a noise speed camera. Just like in the Netherlands, these are processes that will take many years. It therefore seems more likely that the noise will come to an end because more and more electric vehicles appear on the road, rather than because of the noise speed camera.