Q&A - Vehicle Noise, Speeding and Lack of Effective Policing

Q&A ImageA large majority of drivers have simply forgot about traffic laws, safety and respect for others. Daily, one can see many drivers traveling at 20-50 km/hr faster then the posted speed limits. The problem is so bad that some of us residents have formed a Concerned Residents Committee to help us voice our concerns for a solution to this on-going problem. 

We have noticed that the problem is not limited to our neighborhoods, but nearly every corner of the City and appears to be an epidemic so to speak. 

Speaking with many Traffic Officers in regards to the problem, many experienced ones, state that the problem is driver attitude and a serious lack of members in the traffic section, which has allowed for the problem to escalate. In our city for example, where there used to be a 17 member traffic section group, we are down to 6 or 7 members. 

We feel that the only way to calm all of the speeding down is to bring back Photo radar and also have many more dedicated traffic cops to enforce all traffic laws. We also believe that we need traffic law enforcement around the clock because our safety and quality of life is being seriously compromised. 

Along with the speeding problem, we have a serious exhaust noise problem from many vehicles that effects us more so in the evening and early morning hours when we are to be resting and sleeping. 

We have a serious problem of trying to have something done about the noisy aftermarket vehicle mufflers (or lack of). Many times, we have complained about specific vehicles driving aggressively through our residential areas disturbing our sleep or just plainly, annoying us beyond reason. We provide the RCMP with complete vehicle descriptions, license plate numbers, driver information(when we have it), and a complaint of a faulty or excessively loud exhaust system. 

The RCMP don't seem to do anything to about the noisy vehicle, and the problem continues day after day, sometimes for years. 

What is the proper procedure for residents to have something done about these noisy vehicles which are racing through our neighborhoods? We need to know the form of action that will get us results in having these noisy exhaust systems removed from these vehicles, so that we can have our peace and quiet as we once had. 

Would you offer some insight into a remedy for the speeding epidemic that is getting worse by the day. Would you also please explain what happens to the revenues from traffic fines that the RCMP write. Is it true that the City where the enforcement takes place, now receives 100% of the revenues?

If we could change the driving attitudes of those that needed it, we could rule the traffic safety world! However, the bottom of every page on this web site asks the question "Have you ever met anyone that would admit to being less than a better than average driver?" For most of us, the problem lies with others and we are all perfectly capable, well educated and proper drivers. If that's the case, where do these problems come from?

We all speed at some time or another, intentionally or not. I've certainly heard many justifications for it over the years. Chief among them is that you are allowed 10 km/h over the posted limit because the police never stop anyone for doing only that. One man even argued vehemently with me that I could not write a ticket for 10 km/h over, he honestly believed it!

I wonder if this has gone to the point where most drivers expect that the speed limits are only a guideline to be followed when they feel like it and may disobey when it is convenient. When I drive the speed limit and use the "slow lane" on my daily commute to work I feel like a rock in the stream as almost all other drivers pass me by.

Here is my favorite anti-speeding video, and it tries to show how taking even a 5 km/h liberty with the speed limit may have serious consequences.

Excessive noise from vehicles was always a difficult item to deal with, especially with motorcycles. I did not have access to a decibel meter to measure exhaust noise with so I was forced to fall back on description. The Motor Vehicle Act Regulations (MVAR) allowed my opinion in court to be definitive, but the court rarely accepted it as such. I learned quickly that a car or truck driver with noisy exhaust could be prosecuted with some success, but if it was a motorcycle, unless it didn't have a muffler at all, I was wasting my time.

These vehicle owners were also able to justify in their own minds that the noise level that they had chosen was appropriate for them. Ask a Harley rider and they will swear to you that it is necessary to make as much noise as possible to draw the attention of surrounding drivers for safety reasons. Their slogan is "Loud pipes save lives." The teenagers make their modifications to draw attention to themselves as well, but generally not for the same reason that bikers do.

So, why didn't I have a decibel meter? The levels established in the MVAR are for tests in now defunct government testing facilities. They require a specially equipped room for the testing following a rigid set of circumstances. Unless the municipality has established a bylaw for roadside testing, these limits are not very effective for prosecution.

Now, let's deal with enforcement, or lack thereof. I occasionally felt that traffic enforcement was only important to those who had chosen a career in traffic enforcment. If general street policing positions were not filled, traffic didn't need the manpower, so, we'll just borrow a few bodies and fill those vacant spots. Seldom do general street policing personnel take an active interest in traffic enforcement and that is usually because they are too busy with everything else. When I worked in municipal traffic positions I was often tasked to take the "barking dog complaints" because the general duty officers were busy. Traffic enforcement here clearly was unimportant.

How does this track with the current wisdom that you are more likely to suffer death, injury or financial loss through the operation of a motor vehicle than you are from all the other criminal activities combined? Motor vehicle collisions are the number one killer of our youth today.

If you want to know what is going on in your police office, ask. It should be no secret. You will want to know about how many positions are devoted to full time traffic enforcment and how many of those positions actually have bodies in them. This information may be requested from either the head of the local police force or your city council.

Photo radar? That was a political decision. Start with your MLA.

I suggest that you write a letter on paper as you are far more likely to receive a response than if you choose to use e-mail. Better still, visit the office of your local MLA in person and ask them. It's hard to avoid a subject when your constituent is facing you.

How do you make an effective driving complaint? Sometimes it isn't easy and you have to be persistent. I was not successful with the last one I made and I have inside knowledge! Here is a column I wrote after that attempt.

Finally, let's examine traffic fine revenues. Here's information on how the provincial government distributes those funds.

Traffic Fine Revenue Sharing grants assist local governments to improve public safety through community policing, crime prevention and education. So, don't expect it to be spent directly and exclusively on traffic enforcement.

How can you make a difference? This person has made a good start by forming a community action group.

This program has been quite successful in Ontario and is beginning to branch out into British Columbia.

You could also consider becoming a SpeedWatch volunteer.

You can also make a difference by becoming a better driver yourself. Learn a new skill, take some formal training, and above all, follow the rules, even when it is not convenient. Be the example for others to follow.

The City of Kelowna has a noise Bylaw, Bylaw 6647. A bylaw to regulate and prohibit the making or causing of noises and sounds within the City of Kelowna

GENERAL REGULATIONS  3.1 No person shall make or cause, or permit to be made or caused, any noise in or on a highway or elsewhere in the City which disturbs the peace, rest, enjoyment, comfort, or convenience of the neighbourhood, or persons in the vicinity.


5.1 Every person who violates any provisions of this bylaw or who suffers or permits any act or thing to be done in contravention or in violation of any of the provisions of this bylaw or who neglects to do or refrains from doing anything required to be done by any of the provisions of this bylaw, or who does any act which constitutes an offence against the bylaw is guilty of an offence against this bylaw and liable to the penalties hereby imposed. Each day that the violation continues to exist, shall constitute a separate offence.

5.2 Every person who commits an offence against this bylaw is liable to a fine and penalty of not more than FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS ($500.00) for each offence and in default of payment thereof, forthwith or within such time as a presiding Provincial Court Judge or Justice of the Peace shall direct, the fine imposed shall be recoverable under the provisions of the “Offence Act”, Chapter 338, Revised Statutes of British Columbia, 1996 and all amendments thereto.

It is very clear that the City of Kelowna has a noise Bylaw which includes loud exhaust systems on vehicles.

Kelowna has hundreds, if not thousands of vehicles that create noise which disturb the peace, rest, enjoyment and comfort of thousands of residents. There is no plan of action to enforce this Noise Bylaw! Our neighborhoods are being transformed into racetracks with the amount of excessive noise from non-compliant vehicles.

Is the City of Kelowna responsible for ticketting these offending vehicles with aftermarket or faulty exhaust systems that are creating a constant noise disturbance? Are Bylaw officers to be responsible for dealing with our complaints? Who do we complain to in regards to the lack of Noise Bylaw enforcement?

Every vehicle owner that travels past my house at night after I am sleeping which disturbs my sleep, or wakes me up should be ticketted based on this Bylaw. If I have the vehicle information and plate number, can the owner be charged?

What information is needed to ensure that, a loud vehicle's owner, that is disturbing my peace and rest(sleep) gets charged under this Noise Bylaw, as to have it never take place again?

Many homeowners are being forced to sleep with earplugs at night because of excessive noise from aftermarket and faulty exhaust systems on vehicles, I personally think the solution is law enforcement for which the laws were written for in the first place. The lack of law enforcement has led to the type of society we are living in today.

The excessive Noise must be stopped!

Summer is comming, and there is nothing but a constant roar of loud exhausts down every street, day and night.

Daytime is tolerable, but I am sick and tired of being woken up by noisy vehicles that are driven aggressively after we are gone to bed. What is wrong with Law enforcement that we have to live with all of this noise?

Who is responsible, Bylaw says its the RCMP, and the RCMP say that they can't really do much.

We have 2 sets of laws, one being the 6647 Municipal Bylaw and the other being part of the Highway Traffic Act, and yet, nothing is being done to rid our streets of the hundreds or thousands of noisy vehicles.

Unfortunately, I have a neighbour agitates my quite & peaceful enjoyment a lot by using loud music &  Noisy/Smoky Vehicle . The problem is, he idles his vehicle minimum of 1/2 hours a day and he refused to stop doing that.

Today, he idles like 1.5 hours until police comes at the scene.

Amazing thing was, later  I got a call from a police officer ( with RCMP Coquitlam ) saying, " The property owner can idle his vehicle in his property as long as he wants..it is just like one can turn on lights in his property as long as he wants..person who is making reports on this kind of thing is breaking the law as police are very busy to catch theives, gangsters,..etc. " and my question is, if he does not do anything  wrong bothering  the other, why report?

What I can tell all of you is, This kind of judgemental/ arbitrary attitude/behavior of police, simply discouriging citizen who cares by saying " Just shut up! this is  Nothing~! " means that we all are to be living in less quite/peaceful environment for sure.

Policing means to me an enforcement to keep the peace but unfortunately, what I see in here is not a clear result from law enforcement but an undue/discriminative hardship from law enforcement authority.

I can't believe that we are allowing this nonsense in this province. Other provinces have much better control over this problem. The thing is that it's getting worse and worse all the time.

About one in 5 cars are over the noise limit in the city of Kelowna. The cops don't care, in fact, they just laugh at you or ask you to provide a photo of a license plate.

When is this nonsense going to stop? It's an invasion for residents that are near any place where there's a main road.

Many of these morons are speeding too, so it's a two-way problem. These cars need to be impounded. Fines do nothing because many of them are rich people, to begin with.

It's not only a nuisance but it's people's mental health.

These people buy parts online and put them on their cars or take off their mufflers. They had a
problem with car stereos and they fixed that pretty quick so why not this?

The RCMP are useless, we need traffic cops here. I'd like to know who else I could write to about this issue that's been unresolved for years. It's anti-social behavior and it needs to be stopped!

You have three avenues of complaint, the RCMP, your MLA and Kelowna City Council.

The RCMP is responsible to provide traffic enforcement service and in my experience is sometimes not the greatest at doing so. Civilian Review and Complaints Commission.

The province employs the RCMP under contract to do provincial policing. It is up to them to hold the RCMP to account according to the contract. Policing and Security Branch contact information.

The municipality employs the RCMP just like the province.

If I knew how to make them pay attention I would be happy to share the secret with you. Unfortunately....