The in basket: Jerry Darnall of North Kitsap asks, “Does the
sheriff or WSP actually do any monitoring of unmuffled diesel Jake
brakes? Living near an isolated north end traffic signal, it seems
like more and more of local diesel trucks roar up to the
intersection then coast through with the Jake brakes blasting. Some
of these are as loud or louder than the emergency vehicle sirens.
I’m sure some of the unmuffled units are exceeding legal decibel
“There are new technology sound-activated video units available
for monitoring this… similar to speed detection/red light cameras.
Perhaps a mobile set-up could be employed in a rotational system
throughout the county.
“The noise is getting tiresome… and calls to the offending
contractors go nowhere,” he said.
The out basket: Nothing has changed at the county government
level since I last wrote about this in November of 2015.
Jeff Shea, county traffic engineer, after noting that signs
requiring that Jake brakes be muffled are posted on all county
roads near the county line, said then “To my knowledge, this
restriction has never been enforced by law enforcement. My
understanding from talking to the sheriff is that it is difficult
to tell if the brakes are muffled or not. I have also been
told that even if they are muffled, they still make a significant
amount of noise.
“Some communities have passed ordinances to restrict compression
brakes altogether,” he said. “The trucking industry has told us
that this is a safety issue. On steep slopes, trucks with
large loads cannot be controlled without the use of compression
“Also, this type of ordinance becomes an environmental law,”
Jeff said. “Specific noise levels must be established, which makes
enforcement very difficult.
“Normally with these laws, a stipulation is put into the
regulation that allows for their use in emergencies, which can
pretty much be claimed at any time, making enforcement even more of
an issue,” Jeff said.
The county ordinance on unmuffled compression brakes, does
indeed begin thusly: “The application of unmuffled compression
brakes in unincorporated Kitsap County is prohibited, except when
necessary for the protection of persons and/or property, which
cannot be avoided by application of an alternative braking
State Trooper Russ Winger replied to Jerry Darnall’s question,
saying, “I think that any type of technology to monitor this type
of violation – basically a nuisance type – would be a tough sell to
the courts. Many variables could be challenged and it is not a
‘safety’ violation. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to do this
but not very realistic.”
Deputy Scott Wilson, spokesman for the county sheriff, says,
“Currently, the sheriff’s office does not conduct ‘engine
compression brake emphasis patrols’ to monitor sound decibels on
commercial vehicles that use “Jake brakes” in the county. Nor
does the sheriff’s office anticipate installing any type of sound
monitoring technology for this purpose.
“So I’m going to agree with Russ Winger’s response. Any type of
proposed sound measuring device would be challenged in court and
infractions or written case report charges would subsequently be
“Unless a vehicle is greater than 45 to 50 years old, all
diesel-powered trucks use engine compression braking that operates
in conjunction with the vehicle’s muffled exhaust system.
“Depending on the age of the truck, newer systems are quieter than
older systems. What county residents may be hearing are older
vehicles and older systems that seem louder than others, and they
believe that the drivers are operating their trucks without using
muffled braking systems. This would be an incorrect conclusion.
“It also makes the ordinance quite impossible to enforce, since
the trucks are, in fact, using muffled engine compression