Keep the sound down or pay the price.
Barrie police are conducting a blitz this summer on vehicles making unnecessary noise on city streets, along with stop signs and speeding infractions, twice a week during a four-week period. It’s called Project Wake Up Call.
“It seems to be the thing people want to do. They want their vehicle to be seen, they want it to be heard,” said Peter Leon, corporate communications co-ordinator with Barrie police. “But if we can hear it and we can see it, there’s going to be a price attached to that (sound).”
Motorists can be charged under the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) with unnecessary noise or having an improper (or no) muffler, Leon said. They have 15 days to make a decision on how to deal with the ticket - and no opportunity to get the vehicle repaired. The ticket commands them to either plead guilty, and pay a $110 fine, plead not guilty or guilty with an explanation, or have a trial, where a justice of the peace will rule and set a fine, if necessary.
Repeat offenders can also be dealt with through a vehicle report notice.
During the last month, the Barrie police traffic unit has charged 25 people with having an improper muffler.
Leon said the noise these vehicles generate is no accident.
“These cars don’t come from the plant or the dealership this way,” he told BarrieToday. “People are purchasing vehicles, or have existing vehicles that they’re making modifications to. They’re either removing the muffler and running what’s called a straight pipe, basically right back from the catalytic (converter) to the end of the vehicle. And there is no muffler there.
“Or they’re making modifications where it creates a very noisy popping sound as they accelerate and drive it through the neighbourhoods and on city streets,” Leon added. “We’re seeing it in our neighbourhoods, where our officers live as well.
“The people that modify their vehicles… they budget for these type of things (HTA fines). They’re aware that what they’re doing is against the Highway Traffic Act, but they’re prepared to take the chance.”
Leon said there’s no one area of Barrie particularly afflicted with noisy cars and trucks, although he did note Lakeshore Drive.
“You’ve got the openings of the water and plus you’ve also got the height of the buildings, the echoing factor,” he said. “Also a stretch of roadway that is broken up with a number of traffic signals, so when somebody accelerates from a stopped position, you’re going to get that noise.
"As soon as you put your foot on the gas pedal, if they’ve been modified in any way, you’re going to get that noise.”
Last month, city council instructed staff to investigate reducing the speed limit to 30 kilometres an hour on Lakeshore Drive, between Simcoe and Tiffin streets, or 20 km/h slower than the current speed limit of 50 km/h.
Leon noted that HTA offences are not moving violations, like rolled through a stop sign or traffic light, not wearing your seat-belt or speeding. There are no points assessed to the driver’s licence.
“But these are things we take very seriously,” he said. “It’s not unlike speeding, where we’ve certainly, over the last number of weeks, identified a number of very high speeds in residential areas and the outcome and result has obviously been suspension (of driver’s licences) and impoundments of those motor vehicles.”
Leon repeated the old adage that driving is a privilege, not a right — which is why the BPS traffic unit came up with Project Wake Up Call.
“We’re trying to give people an opportunity to realize that what you’re doing isn’t right, and it’s bothersome and it’s annoying,” he said.
Barrie police say noisy vehicles aren’t just a problem in Barrie or even Ontario, but in communities right across Canada, and involve all makes and models of vehicles, older and newer ones.
“When it intrudes on people’s quality of life and the enjoyment of their property… we do have the authority under the HTA to do what we’re doing,” Leon said. “It’s what is being asked of us by the community.”