Fredericton councillors eyeing French approach to noisy vehicles

Fredericton city councillors are paying attention to a new device in France that can automatically identify the licence plate of an excessively noisy vehicle. (Shutterstock - image credit)
Fredericton city councillors are paying attention to a new device in France that can automatically identify the licence plate of an excessively noisy vehicle. (Shutterstock - image credit)

New technology in France aimed at snuffing out excessively noisy vehicles has caught the attention of some Fredericton councillors.

Earlier this year Paris and other French cities rolled out what are called "noise radar" devices, which automatically take a photo of any vehicle that breaks the city's noise-level rules, with the intent of developing a penalty system that could see violators fined 135 Euros.

According to an article on The Guardian's website, the device, which is still just being used in an experimental capacity, is able to measure the noise level of moving vehicles and identify their licence plates.

"I'm looking forward to hearing more about this because, you know, we hear constantly about how much noise is in our neighbourhoods, in our downtown from loud vehicles, motorcycles and other devices," said Fredericton Coun. Bruce Grandy, chair of the city's mobility committee.

"And I think it's important that we start to look at the ways of the present, and this is a very interesting technology to do that.

Coun. Kevin Darrah also commented that the French technology was "interesting," in a tweet linking to a news story about it.

Their comments come a little more than a year after Fredericton city council agreed to implement a noise bylaw that allows officers to ticket a driver $250 if their vehicle is louder than 96 decibels.

However, to enforce it, an officer has to use a decibel-measuring device and be in the right place at the right time to get an accurate reading.

That's led to some questions about just how effective the bylaw is without better methods for enforcing it, Grandy said.

"Let's face it, we can't have a police officer in every corner, every intersection or every neighborhood. You know, the idea is if an officer comes across that in their patrols that they would, you know certainly pull the person over, have a good chat with them … maybe they would actually give them a ticket and start enforcement on that.

"So, you know, it's very limited. I think as we look at policing going down the road, technology is going to be a very important part of enforcement."

Ed Hunter/CBC
Ed Hunter/CBC

It's unclear just how much of an impact the noise bylaw has had since it was implemented.

The Fredericton Police Force was unable to provide statistics on the number of tickets issued to violators.

Back in May, Grandy raised the issue of excessively noisy vehicles in the city during a mobility committee meeting, adding that police Chief Roger Brown had assured him officers would be conducting an enforcement blitz of the noise bylaw this past spring.

Provincial legislation needed

Even before technology like that being used in France can be tried here, Grandy said the province would still need to finalize legislation allowing it.

In May 2021, the provincial government tabled legislation that would allow cities to use red-light cameras, automatic licence-plate readers and photo-radar monitoring devices.

Grandy said that without the legislation, the city can't implement the technology it has wanted to use for years as a way of cracking down on drivers who run red lights and break speed limits.

"I think it's been taking a very long time to get this legislation through — I would like to see, you know, it fast-tracked a little more.

"I know … they have to do research on it and and everything, but you know, I don't think it's a difficult type of legislation."

Judy Désalliers, spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Public Safety, said the legislation passed earlier this year, but implementation won't happen until agreements are formed between the province and local governments on the details.

"Conversations are well underway between the province and local governments," she said.