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What are noise cameras and how do they work?

22nd November 2023

What are noise cameras? 

Noise cameras, also known as acoustic cameras, can monitor sound that is emitted from a vehicle that exceeds a set limit. The aim of noise cameras is to catch drivers who make too much noise with their engines.  

How do noise cameras work?

Noise cameras work in a similar way to speed cameras. They have a microphone that can distinguish between sounds, such as a car’s engine or radio, by monitoring sound patterns.  

They are fitted with an automated number plate recognition (ANPR) system that can capture a numberplate. When a vehicle is exceeding noise levels, the ANPR system is activated by setting off the noise camera’s microphone. The police are then alerted and they can determine what action to take.  

What is the purpose of noise cameras? 

It is illegal to modify exhaust systems to increase noise and power in the UK, although this hasn't stopped some owners getting their cars modified. The use of noise cameras is to help restrict drivers who use exhausts that are illegally modified and break the legal noise limit , with the aim of reducing noise pollution in local communities. 

What is the legal sound limit in the UK?

For vehicles that are manufactured from 2016 onwards, the legal sound limit is 72 decibels (dB). In 2026, this will decrease further to 68 (dB).  

Where are noise cameras currently in the UK?

Currently, noise cameras are in operation in four locations. These areas are Bradford, Bristol, Birmingham and Great Yarmouth as part of a trial. If these trials are successful, noise cameras could see a more widespread rollout across the UK.   


Is your exhaust making too much noise? Why not book in for a free exhaust check here at Merityre? We recommend ensuring your vehicle is legal and roadworthy by booking in for an MOT test and service. For more information, contact our expert team today.