For the first time, France is installing noise radars that will be responsible for monitoring noise levels emitted by vehicles in areas limited to 50 km/h. It is estimated that the fines imposed for exceeding the permitted noise levels could reach 135 euros.
The new noise radars have been installed in seven municipalities. The project, which will last for two years, went into operation a few weeks ago. This initiative is the first of its kind in Europe, so it will take time to evaluate the results and draw conclusions.
When France introduced radar speed guns twenty years ago, it drastically reduced the numbers of traffic accidents, which helped save thousands of lives. The new sensors or noise radars will, for the time being, be a test. Sensors will be able to detect and record vehicles that emit excessive noise, a growing problem in recent years. The authorities’ hope is to set a noise pollution limit and fine motorists who exceed it.
The initiative follows the growing intolerance of the French to street noise, especially from motorcycles and modified scooters. According to a study by Bruitparif – a French state-supported centre that monitors noise in the Paris area – a modified scooter crossing Paris at night can wake up to 10,000 people.
According to a study recently published by the European Environment Agency, noise pollution causes around 16,000 premature deaths in Europe and 72,000 hospitalisations a year. Noise from road traffic is one of the main causes of these poor figures.
After air pollution, noise is the second environmental factor that causes the most health problems, according to the World Health Organization in a 2011 report, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disorders and high blood pressure.
According to the new decree published in the French official gazette, the radars, which are equipped with microphones and cameras to capture the license plate of the offending vehicle, must be located on the hard shoulder.
The first radars installed are located in Saint-Lambert, a town located in the south-west region of Paris that is often part of the route of motorcyclists, ATV drivers and similar vehicles. According to measurements carried out by the Bruitparif agency, noise levels recorded last year in this area were between 210 and 520 dB.
More noise radars will gradually arrive in other municipalities, such as Nice or Toulouse. Although the decibel limit allowed before committing the offence has not yet been established, the first tests set a maximum of 90 dB.
Other measures to be implemented in parallel to the noise radars will be the reduction of the speed limit and the planting of trees and various types of vegetation along the often-congested Paris ring road. Dan Lert, deputy mayor in charge of this plan, adds that emergency vehicles will be ordered to lower the volume of their sirens at night.