Edmonton Noise Monitors End Up Becoming Scoreboards for Noisy Cars

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Everyone is familiar with speed cameras. These sneaky little devices catch us speeding, snap a photo, and then dispatch a ticket to our homes. It’s one of the many ways law enforcement encourages people to follow the rules of the road. Canada thought the same concept could work to help reduce noise. It was wrong.

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The City of Edmonton decided to conduct a test. It installed sound monitors designed to pick up on any vehicles that broke the 85-decibel limit for traffic. The program included eight monitors in the noisiest parts of the city. Four of them simply recorded sound, but the other four included LED boards displaying the actual decibel levels of the cars it detected. And this is where things went wrong in a rather predictable way.

According to CTVNews,

Drivers started using the sensors as “scoreboards” to see whose vehicle engine was the loudest, one local motorcycle club member told CTV Edmonton. Residents were not impressed.

Since this was only a test program, it didn’t include sending out any tickets when a vehicle did break the limit. Anyone who wanted to see just how loud their car was could drive by without fear of reprisal no matter how loud. They might as well have sent an invite to every tuner in the city.

People who lived in the areas with the scoreboard displays complained to the city, which took down all the LED boards. Now things are back to normal, residents are happy, and those with loud cars will once again have to wonder who has the loudest ride in town.

This doesn’t mean the end of the program, however. Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson thinks the plan will work now that the scoreboards are gone. Add in a potential fine to make them just like speed cameras and he might be right.

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For now, the pilot program continues without the LED boards and without any fines collected. It runs through November, at which time officials will take at look at the data and decide whether or not they want to make noise monitors a permanent fixture on Edmonton’s roads.