Nov 8, 2021 - News
Vehicle noise radar may be coming to Philadelphia
A traffic light with noisy speakers instead of lights.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The city of Philadelphia may turn to a high-tech noise-radar system to crack down on excessively loud vehicles.

Driving the news: City Councilmember Mark Squilla put forward a proposal last month to adopt an automated, vehicle noise enforcement system, made up of cameras and decibel-meters.

  • It would automatically identify and ticket vehicles that surpass a certain noise level, similar to how red light cameras work.

Details: The system would target any noise from a vehicle β€” music, mufflers, engines β€” that surpasses 5 decibels above a certain background level noise, according to the legislation.

  • The Philadelphia Parking Authority, which would oversee the system, would mail a ticket to the registered owners of the scofflaw vehicles, with fines set at $100.

State of play: Philadelphia's vibrant car, dirt bike and ATV culture has made headlines recently.

Zoom out: Paris, France, has tested a similar radar system, and New York City is considering one.

What they're saying: Squilla, who had no cost estimate for the system, said excessive noise coming from some vehicles has created quality-of-life issues for residents.

  • "It's a way to enforce the law without engaging the vehicles that are moving. We hope it will help the police and help the residents," he said. "We have people that complain from Jersey over to us about some of our noise meet-ups that are on the river."

Of note: ​​The Kenney administration is not collaborating on the proposal.

  • City spokesperson Joy Huertas told Axios in an email that the city doesn't comment on pending legislation.

The other side: Mercedes Valle, the president of the Kensington-based 2 Infamous 4 Da Streets Auto Club, said the proposal is misguided because it unfairly targets car enthusiasts and those who want to add that "bling factor to their vehicle."

  • Valle said city officials should instead focus on illegal races and people congregating to watch drivers drifting.
  • "Those things put people in more danger than loud music. We have bigger problems out here than people with noisy cars," Valle said, referring to the opioid crisis in Kensington.

What's next: The proposal heads to a legislative committee for a hearing.

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