Edmonton “noise camera” project backfires

The reality is that a loud exhaust might actually raise your level of danger, by submitting you to noise fatigue.

The Edmonton “noise camera” project we told you about earlier this year has hit a problem. Residents near the devices claim they’ve actually caused a hike in road noise.

The idea behind the cameras was simple. They work like photo radar, but instead of taking pictures of vehicles that travel over the speed limit, the devices determine the decibel output of nearby vehicles and if a vehicle (motorcycle, car, truck, whatever) was over the legal limit, then it would mail a ticket to the offending vehicle’s owner.

But for now, the noise photo ticketing devices aren’t government-approved (the Alberta provincial legislature must OK the gadgets before they can hand out tickets), so while in pilot project form, instead of mailing out fines, the cameras were equipped with a display board. Just like speed radar devices that simply display the speeds of passing motorists without issuing tickets, the pilot program in Edmonton only displayed the noise of vehicles going by, with no negative consequences for lawbreakers.

The result was predictable: motorists started using Edmonton’s noise cameras as a way of seeing just how loud they could get their vehicles to register. CTV says residents living near the noise camera installations actually thought noise levels went up as soon as the devices were installed … and dropped when city officials shut down the display boards. For now, the devices are still in place, still registering noise and collecting data, but there isn’t any way for passing motorists to see how loud their vehicles are.

Is this the end of this battle in the long war between Canadian municipalities and loud-piped vehicles? Probably not, although you can bet officials will carefully consider how to deploy these devices in the future, to avoid this problem happening again. The potential of these devices to address long-standing noise complaints, as well as possibly generate revenue, is too good for city councils to pass up.


  1. “Is this the end of this battle in the long war between Canadian municipalities and loud-piped vehicles?” Certainly not.
    Toronto is looking into the damage long term exposure to noise creates. https://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2018/09/03/tory-takes-aim-at-noisy-motorcycles-cars-on-toronto-streets.html

    I ride a 2T dirtbike and am quite conscious of the noise it makes, both in my ears and those around me. So far, the pleasure of a fast, responsive bike outweighs the noise. I’m just glad I don’t live on a hill where every vehicle is hard on the gas to accelerate up the street.

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