Noise Cameras: What Are They And How Do They Work?

noise camera

Last updated: August 28, 2023 at 16:05 pm

Noise cameras are cameras that are used to detect loud noises that exceed a certain speed limit or make unnecessarily loud noises for other reasons. The cameras contain a similar type of technology to speed cameras, in that they are used to catch drivers that are excessively speeding.

The difference is they exist to help with the issue of noise pollution. In order to understand what noise cameras are, we must first decipher the way in which they work.

What Are Noise Cameras?

Noise cameras are a way to help minimise noise pollution on the road. They operate similarly to speed cameras which are used to detect cars that are moving too fast or faster than the speed limit of a certain area.

The difference with noise cameras is that they are activated by excessive sound as opposed to excessive speed. They’re a way for the police to control this issue with vehicles in a fast and effective manner.

How Do They Work?

Noise cameras have a microphone and an automated number plate recognition (ANPR) system. If a car passes by this built-in microphone and the car emits a loud noise, this will be picked up by the microphone. This activates the microphone on the camera and the automated number plate recognition system.

These two pieces of technology work together to figure out the number plate of the car that has emitted excessive sound. The camera can tell the difference between the sound of a loud engine and the likes of a loud noise such as a horn.

In this way:

The noise camera won’t make a mistake and accidentally offer up a fine for a vehicle that supposedly omits a loud noise that has come from elsewhere.

Also read: How to Report a Noisy Car Exhaust [UK]

The Police

The police can find the vehicle in question and receive a report with all the details they need. They can use this information to act, which can be in the form of prosecution or issuing a fine. Using this information, they can also aim to question drivers who are not maintaining their vehicle’s exhausts and silencers.

They can also question those who intentionally alter their vehicle’s exhausts and silencers and put a stop to this modification. Police are also allowed to order cars off the road until the modifications have been changed.

If the police stop you in the UK and you’re fined for loud vehicle noise, you can be fined 50 pounds (57 euros). You can avoid this by sticking to the speed limit of the area in which you’re driving in, and not modifying your car illegally. The police and any noise cameras won’t have any reason to prosecute you regarding your vehicle.

All of this can affect your car insurance and raise the price of it, so it’s best to try and avoid this type of penalty for this reason too.

Why Are Noise Cameras Necessary?

Noise pollution is a massive problem, especially in built-up areas. Along with the annoyance of loud noises, noise pollution can affect the quality of your life. Loud noise can cause loss of hearing, high stress levels, and high blood pressure.

Vehicles that install illegal exhaust pipes and loud engines will emit extremely loud noises that contribute to noise pollution. And overall, can affect everyone’s quality of life in several ways.

A study found that anyone that was living near Frankfurt airport in Germany had a 7% increased risk of stroke. This is compared to those living in similar neighbourhoods that are much quieter and located a good distance away from the airport.

A similar study found that cardiovascular deaths around Switzerland’s Zurich Airport were more likely to happen at night if planes were flying overhead. The noise around you plays a large part in the quality of your life.

Along with this, the tests that vehicles are permitted to undergo (such as the MOT) do not include decibel checks for exhaust noise. So, there was no real way to monitor this noise pollution problem, until noise cameras were introduced.


Police forces are overrun with understaffing so they can’t assign police to be in every single area to listen for loud vehicles.

Noise cameras can be placed in areas that are known for loud vehicles, built-up areas, and rural communities and help the police with this matter.

Are Noise Cameras Used Worldwide?

Noise cameras were first trialled in Northern England and the UK government plans to expand the use of the cameras to

  1. Birmingham
  2. Bristol
  3. and certain parts of Norfolk.

If they’re found to be successful and can help stop the problem of vehicle-related noise pollution, noise cameras could be used nationwide, and potentially even worldwide!

Noise cameras have been rolled out in Paris. They’re being trialed to see if it would be a success in other parts of France and Europe as a whole.

How to Ensure You’re Following the Rules

While some vehicles are purposely modified, you may be at fault with your vehicle and not even realise it. In the UK, the legal noise limit that is permitted is 74 decibels so you must ensure to be always below this number. Make sure your vehicle is always up to standard to avoid unnecessarily loud noises that can be avoided.

When you’re sold your vehicle, the vehicle must be “type approved” under the Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) Scheme before it’s sold. This means that the vehicle will have to comply with the emissions and safety regulations.

This means that if your vehicle can reach an extremely loud decibel when revving and so on, chances are, illegal modifications have been made. It’s illegal for your exhaust to cross the legal noise limit that’s set within your area/country.

Other Illegal Modifications

There are several other illegal modifications that affect the noise of your vehicle that noise cameras will be able to pick up on. Such as:

  • changes to the exhaust management system
  • making changes to the emissions control system
  • or taking off certain parts of the vehicle can all cause problems to the environment and will often make the vehicle louder than it needs to be

If you wish to reduce noise further, electric cars make much less noise than a typical car because they have fewer moving parts in the engine. If you don’t want to drive an electric car, you should ensure that your car is frequently inspected to avoid any problems that could cause loud noises.

An example of this is the loud noise a vehicle will make if the engine is malfunctioning, and this should be looked at immediately.

All in all, noise cameras will be a great benefit to not only the police force but to the everyday person as the reduction of noise pollution will greatly benefit everyone’s health in the long run!

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About the Author: AJ

AJ is a self-confessed soundproofing nut. He has written full-time on Quiet Living for the past 4 years, and has a wealth of knowledge about living a quieter life, soundproofing and fixing loud noises.

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