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Noise Tickets in NYC
News Bytes 01/24/2023 1 Comments

After a quiet pandemic, New York City has come roaring back. There are thumping jackhammers, honking cars, rumbling subway trains—not to mention the sirens and the shouting. For years, city officials have worked to quiet the noise. The latest measure is traffic cameras equipped with sound meters to detect illegal levels of street noise.

New York City already has one of the most wide-ranging noise ordinances in the country. The law sets allowable levels for a host of noisemakers, such as jackhammers and vehicles.

But last spring, a state law known as the Stop Loud and Excessive Exhaust Pollution Act, or the SLEEP Act, went into effect. The regulation increased fines for cars that up the noise level. During the pilot program, at least 71 NYC drivers have gotten noise tickets.

Still, police officers often have priorities other than noise. So many loud offenders have often gone their merry, raucous way.

The new cameras can record the license plates of such offenders—similar to how roadside cameras nab speedsters. Vehicle owners face fines of $800 for a first noise offense. Fines increase from there.

“Vehicles with illegally modified mufflers and tailpipes that emit extremely loud noise have been a growing problem in recent years,” says City Council member Erik Bottcher. He heralded the arrival of the radars to his district to help reduce “obnoxious” noise.

Noise can make hearing difficult. Evidence shows that noise affects not only hearing but mood and mental health. It also presents possible links to heightened risks of heart disease and elevated blood pressure.

“You listen to the noise out there, it is nonstop—the horns, the trucks, the sirens,” New York City Mayor Eric Adams says. “Noise pollution makes it hard to sleep and increases the risk of chronic disease.”

For a few months in the spring of 2020, the roar of vehicles on city streets stopped as people stayed in their homes. The silence allowed people to hear birdsong again—though it was often interrupted by wailing ambulance sirens.

The number of noise complaints actually grew during the pandemic. But some experts say that was a symptom of homebound people’s sensitivity.

Still, some folks say efforts to quiet loud cars go too far. Phillip Franklin, a Bronx car enthusiast, launched an online petition to protest the state’s noise law.

“The majority of us live here in New York City, where noise is a part of our daily lives,” Franklin’s petition says. He also asserted that quiet vehicles pose dangers to distracted pedestrians. Plus Franklin adds, “Fixing potholes is a lot more important than going after noisy cars.”

Even with sound barriers, tight-fitting windows, and noise-dampening insulation, there’s only so much that can be done about the racket. But people say most New Yorkers have come to accept that.

Juan Pablo Bello is lead investigator of Sounds of New York City, or SONYC. His group studies urban noise.

“I think people developed an appreciation for the fact that it’s a messy, noisy city,” says Bello. “We like it to be active, and we like it to be lively. And we like it to be full of jobs and activity, and not this sort of scary, quite unnerving place.”

While city noise can be harmful, spiritual noise can be deadly. The wise person seeks to drown out the noise of the wicked. (Proverbs 17:4)

But whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster. — Proverbs 1:33

(Cars drive through Manhattan on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, in New York. AP/Andres Kudacki)

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Most recent comments

1st Comment!

That is odd that they know who made the noise.

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