BELLAIRE - A small change is coming to the Village of Bellaire, which has recently installed "No Engine Brake" signs on State Route 7.
The signs will mostly effect semi truck drivers who pass through village limits on Route 7. The signs stipulate that the truck drivers may not use their engine brakes inside the village limits.
Engine brakes, also called "Jake brakes" or "Jacobs brakes", are a braking mechanism that is installed on most trucks with diesel engines, typically semi trucks. When activated, the braking system opens exhaust valves in the engine cylinders after the compression cycle, releasing the compressed air trapped in the cylinders and slowing the vehicle.
Shown is the newly installed “No Engine Brake” sign on southbound Route 7 in Bellaire. Another identical sign is installed on the northbound side of Route 7 near the village’s corporation limit.
The driver of the vehicle controls the engine braking system, usually through the means of an on/off switch and sometimes a multi-position switch that controls the number of cylinders on which the brake is active. When the driver has turned on the engine brake, it will activate when the driver releases the accelerator.
The use of such brakes may cause a vehicle to make a loud chattering or "machine gun" exhaust noise, especially vehicles having high flow mufflers or no mufflers at all. Thus, in order to reduce noise pollution from the highway in the village, officials have decided to place "No Engine Brake" signs on Route 7 near the corporation limit signs which were already in place.
The ordinance reads "No person operating a motor vehicle within the Village, on either private or public property, shall apply an engine brake or otherwise use the vehicle's engine to decelerate in such a manner as to cause excessive, unreasonable or unusual noise."
The ordinance goes on to stipulate that it is the responsibility of law enforcement personnel to enforce the new law.
"The primary means of detection shall be by means of the officer's ordinary auditory senses," the ordinance states, "so long as the officer's hearing is not enhanced by any mechanical device, such as a microphone or hearing aid."
It also states that the officer must have a direct line of sight and hearing to the motor vehicle producing the sound so that he/she can readily identify the offending vehicle and be able to judge the distance at which the noise is audible.
Anyone found guilty of using engine brakes within the village limits will be guilty of a minor misdemeanor on the first offense. On a second offense that occurs within one year of the first offense, the individual will be guilty of a misdemeanor in the fourth degree. Any subsequent offenses will be misdemeanors in the third degree.
Scott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org