City noise camera program to crack down on loud mufflers, drag-racers in Bay Ridge

new noise camera coming to Shore Road in Bay Ridge
City officials announce new noise camera coming to Shore Road as part of their crack down on quality of life concerns.
Photo courtesy of Khunkorn Laowisit/Pexels

A noise camera that can detect excessively loud car mufflers and exhaust is coming to Shore Road in Bay Ridge to address late-night quality-of-life concerns in the nabe. 

The Department of Environmental Protection pilot program — which initially launched in June 2021 — pairs a noise camera with a sound meter that activates when the meter detects noise of at least 85 decibels from a source at least 50 feet away. Once detected, the camera will capture video of the sound and the car’s license plates. DEP then reviews the evidence before deciding to issue a Notice to Appear.

The expansion comes as an aid to enforce the SLEEP Act, a statewide bill that increases penalties against drivers and repair shops that illegally modify mufflers and exhaust systems. Local state Sen. Andrew Gounardes initially proposed the bill, and it was signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul in October 2021. 

“When there is voluntary noise, noise does not have to be there, and it assaults your ears at a time when you should be getting the rest your body desperately needs after a long day as a New Yorker, then we have to step up and do something,” Hochul said at the time. 

According to Gounardes, loud cars has been a long-standing quality of life concern for southern Brooklynites which is why he first pitched a noise camera program in the area and fought for the SLEEP Act.

“Shore Road has been a particular problem area for a number of years. There’s a lot of speeding, there’s a lot of drag racing, there’s a lot of cars racing up and down Shore Road with these modified exhausts and we hear about it from residents all the time,” he told Brooklyn Paper.

DEP's noise camera expansion aims to help enforce the SLEEP Act law.
Governor Kathy Hochul, Senator Andrew Gounardes and other pols celebrated the enactment of the SLEEP Act in Oct. 2021.Photo courtesy of the Office of state Sen. Andrew Gounardes

Despite the laws regulations, the senator said his team is still finding that loud noise continues to be a problem, “particularly from vehicles that are intentionally flouting the law.”

“We’re really looking for another set of solutions to bring the bear to this,” he said.

As a part of the crackdown, the department increased fines associated with disruptively loud vehicles — a first time offense comes with an $800 penalty, which increases to $1,700 for a second offense and $2,500 for any additional infractions.

A DEP spox said their team receives various recommendation sites for a noise camera, however they choose locations with the biggest quality of life benefits. 

“We learned lessons during the pilot,” DEP said. “While we have found them to be an effective tool, cameras are not right for every location.”

Now that there will be a noise camera on Shore Road, Gounardes expects it will be easier for DEP to enforce their SLEEP Act penalties. 

“We’re glad to see this come to fruition and make a difference for residents who are suffering from loud, obnoxious, illegally modified mufflers on these cars that really should not be roaming the street,” Gounardes said.