New York using roadside sound meters to fine drivers of obnoxiously loud vehicles

Those numbers only mean something when you test using the exact parameters outlined elsewhere in those regulations. I looked a little further and it explains that those measurements need to be taken at 50ft behind the vehicle from the center of the road. If the police enforcement measurement isn’t in that exact location, those dB’s don’t mean anything. 78db at 50ft is likely in the 80s at 25ft.

All I’m saying across my posts in this thread is that this is a fruitless endeavour, as most nuisance policing tends to be.

What are you talking about? Those measurements are instructions! Placing a microphone 50 ft away isn’t some kind of impossible mission, that’s just the process.

Nuisance policing? You feel that people with absurdly loud cars aren’t a real problem? How nice that you don’t have the same problems many of the rest of us do. What are the odds this also has something to do with what you drive?

Traffic noise linked to higher heart disease risk


Chances are zero. I am a car guy though. My cars all have stock exhaust systems and tunes. One has an OEM sport mode button that makes the exhaust louder and adds pops and bangs on the over run and it is a bit obnoxious. I never use the sport mode in residential areas because I don’t want to disturb people. Also, I have a 6 lane road out my front door so loud vehicles is a problem for me.

Like I said, I agree that many cars are too loud. I just believe roadside flyby measurement isn’t the solution. It doesn’t replicate the official test scenarios and conditions that are used to set maximums. Because of this, many of these tickets won’t hold up in court. And like red light ticket cameras, they won’t change behavior and will only exist to add revenue to the police department budget.

This is an issue that folks can wring their hands over all they want but it will ultimately solve itself as we all switch to electric cars over the next decade.

I’m more optimistic about the efficacy of the devices, but you are right: one way or another, we’ll see.

And you are absolutely right about electrics!

Triple hit, since without a catalytic converter they won’t pass NY State’s vehicle emissions inspection test.

Yeah, I’m wondering if this has been tested in court. With a red light camera it’s pretty obvious when a car has run a red light, but loud noise? That seems ripe for attack by a vigorous defense attorney.


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Sorry, why do you need that exact location? If I measure 80 dBA at 100 feet I can be pretty sure it would also exceed 78 dBA at 50 feet, because of physics. Maybe you’ll miss some people with that but not the noisiest ones.


Preach GIF


All about “i bought this legally I should be drive it whenever i want”. My hurdy gurdy is perfectly legal but noise ordinances in my city prohibit me from practicing my craft from 22:00 to 10:00 unless in designated places. I cannot operate my washing machine at midnight for the same reasons.

Noise ordinances do not protect your perfectly legal but obnoxiously loud car from disturbing my sleep. The only reasonable assumption is that you should be able to use common sense not to drive your loud car in a residential area at night.


I know someone who does the red light camera check in MoCo, MD. She told me that when the cameras detect something going through a red light, it sends a 5 second clip to a server, which she then reviews. If the vehicle was already in the intersection when the light turned red, she flags it as legal and the clip gets stored. If not, she flags it as illegal, then confirms the license plate number and a ticket is issued and the clip stored. Her work gets audited regularly to ensure she is “accurate” (i.e. not letting people off the hook.)

I’m sure a noise system works the same way: if the microphone detects a noise above a certain decibel level, it sends a clip to a reviewer. If the noise is construction, fireworks, a St. Patrick’s Day parade, it gets flagged as legal. If not, a citation is issued. If the person receiving the citation believes it was in error, they are then sent to an inspection location (VEIP, maybe?) where they do the physical inspection to determine if the car in question was really the violator.

The innovative part of this law is the government assistance to fix the noise problem. In DC at least, many residents or people working in DC can’t afford to fix the problem, thus creating a legal trap they can’t escape. A good faith actor can get out of this trap.

The man-babies who noise-mod their cars? Fuck them. Loud cars are only cool between the ages of 8 and 13.

(Insert clip from earlier BB post about people with loud cars “show me your GED!”)


Anecdotally, New York’s new campaigns against excessive noise seem to be having some impact. I live above a major highway in New York City, and for some months we were subjected to constant window-rattling detonations from these asshats. Lately, though, they’ve become much rarer, so much so that it’s actually a surprise to hear one.

It’s possible that now that the pandemic is “over”, the owners don’t have as much time to go cruising, or that the roads are busier so they don’t get to go as fast as they like. But it’s also possible that new laws are making a difference. It even occurs to me that much of the noise may have been made by a few repeat offenders, so the cops didn’t need to issue very many fines to address the problem.

I have to say, I don’t get it. I mean, I recognize that there’s a certain kind of mind that wants to go “Look at me! Look at meeeeee!” all the time, like the eejits with the ultra-loud sound systems in their cars. But why would you want something that sounds like someone firing off a shotgun every few seconds at random intervals? Wouldn’t that be as startling and annoying to the occupants of the vehicle as to everyone around them? It might not be as loud inside the car as it is to someone standing outside it, but I’d bet that it’s still loud enough. Unless they’ve all gone deaf (a possibility), they have to be hearing it.


The cost of multiple receivers will probably be offset by one or two tickets.

In a nutshell, never. That’s not a thing in US, generally. Smog is tested every couple years on older cars in CA, but that’s the only regular inspection of any sort that I know of.

Lots of products are legal to buy but not legal to use in all situations and jurisdictions. Virtually every Harley exhaust on the road already violates every noise by-law in every major city. If Harley owners buy them and ride them anyway, they’re gonna get a ticket someday (or they would if they weren’t all old white men).

Almost any shop will do an illegal side window tint for you too. It’s on you to know that’s illegal and you’ll get ticketed for it.

You’ve never been to LA, I guess.

They don’t have to be. It’s about noise level and nothing else. All cities already have noise by-laws that cops enforce (though inconsistently). They often use decibel meters for this when there are complaints in an area. This new system is better and more accurate enforcement of existing law, nothing more.

It’s clear you’re real annoyed by laws like this, so I’m guessing you’re a person who likes to modify cars. Me too. I spent 25 years building, modifying and legally racing cars in Los Angeles. In California, the state with the toughest car laws in the US. It just ain’t that hard to have fun and stay legal.

Loud exhausts are selfish and nothing more. Arguing otherwise is the car modding equivalent of claiming you need an AR-15 to hunt deer. Admit you like the loud noise, then move on from it like an adult.


You’re overlooking those sneaky ventriloquist cars.

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Fan of loud exhausts, are we?

Please for the love of God bring this to New Hampshire.

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Thanks, that’s quite eye-opening. We’re reminded that even if our car passes its annual check-up that it’s still our responsibility to keep it road-legal until the next check-up. Like if I reversed into some debris and made my exhaust illegally loud, saying “it passed its check-up 6 months ago” wouldn’t be a valid defense.

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I would imagine a 2 minute camera clip with sound of a relatively quiet street being approached by a loud car in violation of the statutes would be compelling evidence. If the offender then alters their car to be quieter to submit that as evidence, and then keeps it quiet so they don’t get more tickets, that wouldn’t be horrible?


Well ya know, right here in this neighborhood we don’t have a heckuva lotta noise. . .

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My city district banned plastic leaf bags and switched to paper ones about two years ago. Paper bags are a pain in the ass to deal with, hard to fill or get wet and fall apart, so local landscape crews are ditching bags all together and are now using industrial shredders to fill trucks with leaves/yard debris. These things are as loud as any aircraft takeoff when running. Easily reaching 80 - 100db or more.

Now if we could get these camera mics into the neighborhood on a Saturday morning…