California will turn on sound sensors to stop loud emissions

The state of California may launch a new pilot program that will see six (unpublished) cities adopt “sound-activated enforcement systems” that basically act like a speed camera, just for sound.

The California state legislature approved the measure, and if Governor Gavin Newsom signs the law, the five-year pilot program could start cracking down on cars and motorcycles.

The bill has no effect on which noise levels are acceptable, so the pre-state limit of 95 decibels for cars built after 1985 and 80 decibels for motorcycles will remain unchanged, AutoWeek reported.

Read more: New Yorkers can be caught on decibel camera

Instead, the state will now be able to enforce those word limits more effectively. According to the bill, the sound-activated enforcement system has some decibel meters and a smart camera that can focus on the source of the sound to take pictures of the car and eventually send a ticket to the owner.

Although the bill does not specify how the system works, California is not the first to introduce such a system. The report revealed earlier this year that New York State has begun issuing summonses to people whose vehicles have been found too loud by similar automated enforcement systems. France is also testing these systems.

While it may seem strange that California is buying sound enforcement equipment when it plans to ban the sale of vehicles with new internal combustion engines, that ban is not coming until 2035. Just because new ICE cars aren’t being sold doesn’t mean they won’t be on the road yet, either, most new cars could last at least another five to 10 years after that.

California drivers who are concerned about getting tickets will be given ample opportunity to slow down, at least. This new proposed law requires that drivers be warned with signs before entering a noisy area and that first-time offenders will not be fined. Participating city governments will also need to provide payment plans, delay options and penalty waivers for low-income vehicle owners who demonstrate inability to pay.

The size of the fines for those who exceed the noise level on multiple occasions remains unclear at this time. Funds raised through this program, however, will have to be spent on either its continuity or other traffic quiet infrastructure.

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