DRIVERS could soon face fines if their car exhaust makes too much noise. The rolling out of ‘acoustic cameras’ across Britain has been gathering pace, and it can only be a matter of time before we see them here. 

Sporty vehicles, faulty exhausts, and modified cars run the risk of being slapped with fines, as do boy  and  girl racers and owners of flash cars.

Vehicles registered between 2016 and 2022 can be hit with a fixed penalty notice if the noise from their vehicle exceeds 72 decibels (dB), and cars registered between 2007 and 2016 exceeding 76dB will also be targeted. 

 

The cameras are revenue creators, which explains their increasing popularity – and why we’ll be seeing them here sooner rather than later. In one borough of London almost 10,000 vehicles triggered cameras between June 2021 and February 2022, automatically generating  fixed penalty notices. Supercars were the most common culprits, but it's not just drivers of supercars running the risk of fines. A common reason for a noisy exhaust can be an old, worn-out system and of course the ear-splitting rasps from modified cars.

Long-term exposure to noise from road traffic on our roads can cause hearing damage and heightened stress levels, and the damage being caused to the hearing of the drivers inside these noisy cars is incalculable. In addition, noisy car owners are a real danger to other road users , who are unable to hear what is going on around them.  If you want the thrill of the noise, you can do so safely by attending motorsport events where the maximum noise limit is typically up to 109dB. Noise is all part of the enjoyment of driving a performance vehicle and the best way to safely experience this yourself is at a rally or race school. There are a few such schools near Belfast – Superdrive Rally School at Bishopscourt and the Kirkistown race school near Portaferry are but two. There thrill seekers can satisfy their need for speed and noise in a safe environment. Noise pollution, just like air pollution, causes stress and illness, so now is the time to think about the impact our cars are having on others. 

Skoda pulls its awards weight

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THE industry’s longest standing testing awards for cars to tow with saw the Skoda Karoq take the top award. 

The Karoq Sportline 2.0 TDI 4x4 SCR has long been a favourite with families looking for a practical capable SUV.  The new 2023 model complete with new styling and technology and a 2.0-litre diesel engine with four-wheel drive  claimed class and category victories as well as the overall title. Winners in other categories included the Volkswagen ID.5 Style, Skoda Enyaq iV 80X Sportline, Volkswagen Golf Estate Alltrack, Volvo XC40 Recharge Twin, the Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid. The Polestar 2 Dual Motor won the EV class, and the Volkswagen Multivan Style TSI took the commercial category victory. 

Nick Lomas, Director General of the Caravan and Motorhome Club, said: “This year’s competition was notable for the number of electric vehicles competing and the EVs performed well against established petrol and diesel models.  SUVs lined up against estates and pick-ups, and even an MPV was entered.  Leisure vehicle holidays are more popular than ever, it’s important that the Club continues to provide qualified and unbiased information to help all those who plan to tow, to find the right car for their needs.” 

Each car was put through its paces at the UTAC Millbrook Proving Ground near Bedford, which provides a variety of test-driving environments. Manufacturers were invited to submit for testing any vehicle that could tow a trailer over 750kg and available to purchase on October 1, 2022. The Club’s Scrutiny team thoroughly checked each vehicle before handing it over to the ‘caravanability’ and driving judges.  Even if you don’t tow, if these cars are good enough to win these awards, they are certainly good enough to consider going to the shops in.  

Rea loses ground and Turkington has a mountain to climb

IN the world of motorsport, two seconds and a fourth for Larne’s Jonathan Rea at the Catalunya Round of the World Superbike Championship means that he has lost more ground to championship leader Alvaro Bautista who took three race wins at his home event. 

Things could not have gone much better for Alvaro as he claimed his hat-trick at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. After winning from fifth in Race 1, Bautista repeated that in the Superpole Race, claiming first place on the grid for Race 2 which he duly won to take his first hat-trick in three years. Reigning champion Toprak Razgatlioglu also lost ground, faring much worse in the weekend’s results with a fifth, an eighth, and a fourth. Alvaro now leads the championship on 394 points, 59 ahead of Razgatlioglu and 67 ahead of Rea. 

In the BTCC Tom Ingram cruised to victory in the final race at Silverstone as the Hyundai man brought the curtain down on a wonderful day of racing at the famous Northamptonshire circuit.

Incredibly, with the season finale to come at Brands Hatch in two weeks’ time, the top three drivers are now separated by just seven points with Ash Sutton leading from Jake Hill and Tom Ingram, with Colin Turkington some 27 points off the summit. Turkington had a nightmare weekend having qualified in a lowly tenth, suffering from the penalty of no hybrid boost because he led the championship coming into this round. He failed to finish race one, was 13th in race two and 12th in race three. So a weekend to forget about for the Portadown driver, who now has a mountain to climb.