You know you’re under surveillance at the airport, in a bank or federal building, but watchful eyes extend far beyond that. Depending on where you live, the government could be keeping tabs on you from the moment you leave home. .
Traffic cameras have been around for decades, capturing photos of your car and license plate. They can be used to catch you for speeding, running a red light or driving an unregistered vehicle.
Lawmakers have added a new feature to speed cameras: sound meters to record the volume of passing vehicles.
Here’s the backstory
Cities have ordinances regarding noise, and you can get a ticket for anything from loud parties to the excessive racket from construction. Cars fall under the purview of many locales as well.
You can also be pulled over and ticketed if your car is too loud. Police use a decibel meter to measure the noise from your exhaust. These noise ordinances target modified vehicles primarily.
The Stop Loud and Excessive Exhaust Pollution Act (SLEEP Act) was passed last year to “increase enforcement against motorists and repair shops that illegally modify mufflers and exhaust systems to make them excessively noisy.”
New York City, which has strict laws against noise, started a pilot program last year to catch loud cars and motorcycles via traffic cameras equipped with sound meters.
Loud vehicles can be fined up to $800 for breaking the law, the Associated Press reports. And that’s just for the first offense. The penalty rises to $2,625 if the driver ignores the third offense hearing.
At least 71 drivers have been caught by the sound-measuring cameras so far.
Are they coming to your city?
Though this program is currently running in NYC, if other cities see a benefit, who’s to say they won’t adopt it? Drivers are worried that traffic cameras may snap photos of loud vehicles without modification.
Some drivers use aftermarket parts that raise the sound of their cars to the point that it can damage the hearing of people around them. But does the solution lie in more surveillance and oversight?