Nfld. & Labrador

RNC wants new tools to silence obnoxious motorcycle noise

Police in St. John's are hoping one day to be able to use decibel meters to address frequent complaints about roaring noises from motorcycles.
Service NL and the RNC are working to crack down on modified tailpipes and mufflers on motorcycles. (CBC)

Police in St. John's are hoping one day to be able to use decibel meters to address frequent complaints about roaring noises from motorcycles. 

Some motorcyclists remove or alter their vehicles' baffles to produce an unmistakable roar, triggering numerous calls to police. 

But getting those cases into court can be harder than some might think, Sgt. Paul Murphy said in an interview. 

"We know it's loud. You can tell it's loud, by the sound, but we have to articulate that for court — and that's where the problem lies," he said. 

For instance, a visual examination of a motorcycle may not produce the evidence needed for a charge to be laid, at least under highway legislation as it's currently written.

"You can tell it's been altered, but what's it been altered from? What was the original exhaust on that vehicle?" Murphy said. 

Murphy said the RNC would like the Highway Traffic Act to be updated to allow police to use decibel meters, which he said would allow for an easier way of determining whether a motorcycle is crossing a line. 

'It makes it very clear'

Currently, the law forbids tampering with the baffle. A new law would be based on the noise such a manoeuvre would generate. 

"It makes it very clear," he said. 

"For instance, say the Canadian standard is 82 decibels and we stop a motorcycle ... and if the exhaust output is 110, well, that breaches that section. That's where it makes it clear." 

Murphy says the police have been working with provincial officials on changing the Highway Traffic Act to allow for decibel metres, although there is no indication yet as to when the law may change. 

Meanwhile, Murphy said he has some sympathy for motorcycle riders who maintain that noise from their machines improves road safety. 

"That's common across North America. I believe they say that loud pipes save lives," he said.  "There's some argument for that [and] it's not just motorcycles — motorists that I see around here, they don't see motorcycles coming and they don't see bicycles coming, either." 


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