We are working with the heavy vehicle industry to find a solution to unnecessary engine-braking noise from heavy vehicles, which is causing frustration and sleepless nights for communities.
Engine braking is a safety feature on trucks that enables faster and more controlled slowing. Engine-braking systems are automatic and have to be manually overridden by the driver.
It's estimated that only a small percentage of the fleet (around 1%) have noisy engine brakes, but those that do can cause significant disturbance, especially in built-up areas. Engine-braking noise generally arises from older American-designed trucks and is not an issue for new trucks, which suppress engine braking noise.
This problem is likely to be minimised over time as new trucks have quieter engine braking systems. However, the current national fleet of trucks, without these enhanced engine braking systems, will be operated well into the future, so dealing with the problem is still needed in the short term.
In order to find a solution to the engine-braking noise problem, we have installed a noise camera in Tauranga, on Takitimu Drive (State Highway 2) near the Elizabeth Street roundabout. We will work together with industry associations to achieve compliance with truck drivers.
The camera itself is revolutionary for New Zealand, combining both the ability to measure the character of noise made by the heavy vehicle with the ability to record the licence plate of the vehicle.
When the camera first picks up engine-braking noise, the appropriate association will contact the operator to discuss how to address the issue. For repeat engine braking offences, the Transport Agency and the NZ Police will work with the operator on compliance.