Nearly 700 tickets for vehicle noise have been issued this year through a new “noise camera” initiative that officials say has proven popular with the public.
Starting on Jan. 1, local governments nationwide began installing devices that automatically take a snapshot of any vehicle emitting more than 86 decibels of noise on roads with speed limits of up to 50kph, or in excess of 90 decibels on faster roadways.
Fines range from NT$1,800 to NT$3,600 (US$64.49 to US$128.98), with a possible additional fine of between NT$3,000 and NT$30,000 if the vehicle is found to have been illegally modified.
From Jan. 1 to the middle of last month, 696 tickets had been issued, Environmental Protection Administration Minister Chang Tzi-chin (張子敬) told a meeting of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee on Wednesday.
About 90 percent were first-time offenders and therefore received the lowest fine, he said, adding that the most tickets were issued in New Taipei City.
The agency aims to deploy 100 cameras by the end of the year, adding to the 50 cameras already set up in 20 cities and counties across the nation, he added.
The policy has won widespread support from the public, Chang said.
In the agency’s survey, 58.3 percent of respondents said they were “very much” in favor of the policy, while 31.2 percent were moderately in favor, Chang said.
In a Yahoo poll, a comparable 85 percent of respondents approved of the cameras, he added.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Hung Meng-kai (洪孟楷) was encouraged by the positive feedback, but recommended some improvements as the policy expands further.
As drivers might learn to avoid roads with fixed cameras, Hung suggested that the agency invest more in mobile stations that could be moved wherever needed.
He also requested that the agency investigate appropriate locations for noise cameras in New Taipei City and allocate funding to install them within a month, as there are not enough for the special municipality of 4 million people.
Chang said there are already plans to acquire more mobile cameras in the next batch of 50 and vowed to deploy them in hotspots.
“These devices are our own creation, so of course we will do our best to use them,” he said.
However, the point of the policy is to provide residents with a peaceful environment, not to issue tickets, he added
Each device costs NT$800,000 out of a budget of NT$49 million for the project, Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Director-General Tsai Meng-yu (蔡孟裕) said.
Tsai also outlined plans for the agency’s “noise camera 2.0,” which promises to be smaller and cheaper than its predecessor.
A budget of about NT$81 million has been earmarked to create 100 of the cameras from next year to 2027, Tsai added.
Additional reporting by CNA
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