Noisy vehicles targeted

FAIRMONT – Those who are proud to have the loudest pipes in town might want to think about toning it down.

Fairmont Police Deparment has announced plans to crack down on noisy exhausts on vehicles and motorcycles.

“Part of the reason is over the years, it’s one category of nuisance that the city has called on me for a lot,” said Fairmont Police Chief Greg Brolsma. “All of our community has asked us to do something about this.”

It’s a difficult violation to enforce, since the department does not have a way to accurately measure decibels, plus most vehicles are on the move when violations occur.

“I think we all know what’s excessive,” said Fairmont police officer Craig Fowler. “And there are ways to document it. There is no magic easy way, but we can tell which ones are the loud, noisy ones. We go more by the physical aspect, whether there is no muffler or baffles on a motorcycle.”

“There are several layers to the whole thing,” Brolsma said. “With mufflers, there are certain drivers that enjoy making all that noise, but they’re unaware that it bothers other people.”

Police say their enforcement gives motorists and motorcyclists who fall into this category a chance to police themselves before they potentially receive a citation.

“As bikers get ready, check the exhaust,” Fowler said. “People sometimes remove the baffles to make their bike louder. But without those in, it’s considered not having a muffler, and that’s a $130 fine. You can also be charged with a city ordinance violation, which is a misdemeanor … There is a myth that motorcycles need to be loud as a safety feature. Well, the exhaust blows out the back, so you’re not alerting those in front of you.”

There is also the matter of the driving conduct that plays in with the noise factor.

“How they are driving, if they’re cracking the throttle, and deliberatly rattling of the pipes to be a nuisance,” Fowler said.

Another target will be semi-trailer trucks.

“Jake braking is another thing we’ll be watching,” said Fairmont police officer Gene Austin.

Fairmont is not alone in targeting loud vehicles and motorcycles.

“There are many communities around the U.S. that are calling for ordinances that make it more restrictive,” Brolsma said. “So we would like to encourage people to take care of it themselves before it gets to that point.”

Police also are encouraging citizens to call in violations they witness, or to report them on the Fairmont police website:

“It’s to a point that people think they just need to deal with it, but if they got somebody revving their pipes up at 6 a.m. every morning, you can report that and we know where and when to check on that violation,” Fowler said.