OPP campaign focuses on loud vehicles

·5 min read

Pembroke – The COVID pandemic gets blamed for a lot of things, and now you can add loud vehicles to the list

As a result, the Upper Ottawa Valley (UOV) Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) lunched Operation Decibel on Monday to try and curb the flood of complaints in regards to loud, illegally modified vehicles in the detachment area.

The campaign, which will run until August 22, will address loud and unnecessary noise from motor vehicles which have been modified by removing the mufflers, or modifying the exhaust system.

UOV OPP Detachment Commander Inspector Stephan Neufeld said in ordinary times most people would not notice the loud sounds coming from these modified vehicles, but with so many people sent home from work the last year, the calls for service have been steady.

“Normally a lot of our residents are away at work, but COVID changed all that and with so many people home, and many of them are already anxious due to the financial and psychological impact of COVID, and many of them are dealing with a range of mental health issues,” he said. “The range of things that annoyed them, such as sudden loud noises, may not have affected them at all on a regular day. The world has changed and not just in our little corner of the world. In fact, calls for service went up for various issues such as noise complaints.

“With that in mind, we have listened to local residents and Police Service Boards regarding the excessive and unnecessary noise generated by a small minority of car and motorcycle drivers. The issue has risen to the level where the noise is having a negative impact on residents' quality of life. That is why for the second year in a row in August we have launched Operation Decibel to meet the needs of our community."

Inspector Neufeld said along with noise complaints, residents who a year ago would not have called for some issues are now bringing their concerns to the detachment.

“Sadly, we have seen a sharp increase in the number of domestic assaults because 16 months ago most husbands and wives who were employed were apart for the majority of the week due to their work commitments. But now many have been under the same roof 24/7 and for some, the animosity between the two parties has increased and as a result our officers are dealing with an increase in domestic abuse cases.”

Operation Decibel is not something new for Insp. Neufeld and he has instituted the program in the last four detachments he has either commanded or been part of the senior management team.

“Operation Decibel dates back to the early 2000s when its purpose was to target renegade motorcycle gangs like the Outlaw Biker Gang so we had a reason to pull them over and that often led to other factors surrounding the gang,” he said. “Today it has morphed into targeting civilian vehicles with modified mufflers or loud motorcycles and it does have a direct and impactful result, especially when they are receiving a hefty fine.”

The blitz allows the issuing of fines to the discretion of his officers.

“I will never interfere with my officers when they make judgement calls whether or not to issue a fine, whether it be for noise or speeding or any other infraction under the Highway Traffic Act,” he said.

Under Section 75 (1) of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) every motor vehicle or motor assisted bicycle shall be equipped with a muffler in good working order and in constant operation to prevent excessive or unusual noise and excessive smoke, and no person shall use a muffler cut-out, straight exhaust, gutted muffler, Hollywood muffler, by-pass or similar device upon a motor vehicle or assisted bicycle.

Insp. Neufeld said it is an offence for a driver, at any time, to cause the motor vehicle to make any unnecessary noise.

“A violation will hit them where it hurts, and that is their wallet. The fine for unnecessary noise and improper muffler violations is $110 each. No decibel reading is required for court or a conviction as officers can determine if the noise is loud enough to issue a ticket.”

Insp. Neufeldt said Operation Decibel runs just one week in August as both police and anyone involved with school transportation prepares for the start of the school year and officers are very much front and centre in enforcing basic road safety measures.

“September is going to be a big learning curve for everyone,” he said. “Buses have not really been running for almost two school years so people have to be re-educated in the areas of red lights on buses, reduced speeds in school zones, and passing a bus when the flashers are on while children are getting on or off a bus. Normally we dedicated resources for the first two weeks, but it will be all of September this year because the safety of our children is one of our top priorities.”

When asked if he has any advice for residents in the catchment area, which includes Pembroke, Petawawa, Whitewater Region, Laurentian Hills, Laurentian Valley and North Algona Wilberforce, his answer was simple.

“If you own a car with an after-factory modified muffler, or your motorcycle is extremely loud, my advice is to either park your vehicle next week or be prepared to be pulled over by one of our officers. That traffic stop for noise may see your bank account go down and something all of us share is we really are not happy paying a fine.”

Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader

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