It’s about time to throw in the towel; there’s officially no hiding from Big Brother any longer. The already-contentious debate around traffic cameras is about to get even more divisive, as it seems that New York City is trying out a new type of traffic cam that can measure a car’s noise level as it passes, snap a photo of the license plate number, and potentially lead to a fix-it ticket for the driver.
Road & Track reached out to the city of New York for comment, after a Facebook page called “Lowered Congress” posted a photo of a summons relating to a BMW M3 that a traffic cam deemed too loud. The publication was told by a NYC Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson that the traffic cameras and their decibel level-recording powers are part of a small pilot program that’s been in effect since September of last year. The noise pollution-fighting program is going to be reevaluated on June 30th, per the New York City DEP, at which point it will probably either be scrapped, or expanded.
Noise pollution is a serious business, as far as New York is concerned. As R&T notes, NY Governor Kathy Hochul in September signed a new bill into law that made the state’s exhaust noise violation fine the highest in the country, swelling from $150 to a whopping $1,000. That sum could get you a large part of the way there on a very solid exhaust kit for your C8 Corvette.
She also signed a bill into law that looks to ban ICE vehicles entirely by 2035 in the Empire State. So it’s safe to say she’s not on the side of the motoring populace.
The good news – if you’re an enthusiast who would very much like to have your cake and eat it too – is that active-valve exhaust systems like Fabspeed’s Valvetronic Maxflo system for the C8 Corvette are becoming increasingly common. Systems like these allow you to adjust your exhaust noise output at the flip of a switch, potentially saving you a ticket so long as you can remember to close the valves whenever you drive through a densely populated urban center.
Of course, there are still bigger questions regarding just how comfortable we are with the idea of so much of the policing and citing tasks being automated, or with government equipment following and tracking our every move. No one likes having their sleep disrupted at 3 AM by a boisterous Scat Pack with a lead-footed driver who has no concept of the word “courtesy.” But just what sort of observational tactics we’re willing to allow to ensure that s/he is made to knock it off is still an open debate.