Jake brakes generate another complaint

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 levels.

“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 brakes.

“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 system.”

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 dismissed.

“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 brakes.”

3 thoughts on “Jake brakes generate another complaint

  1. I have heard motorcycles and small cars generate excessive noise, much louder than the “Jake brakes,” but are accepted. The trucks bring food and goods, while the motorcycles and small cars are just noisy. I had a person who just bought a new Harley brag about the first thing he did was ram a pipe into the muffler to destroy the baffles.

  2. Mr. Darnell is mistaken in believing there are unmuffled Jake brakes being operated on county roads. While a compression brake develops its sound by a different means than the engine’s power cycles, the sound generated by a Jake brake comes from the very same engine cylinders that burn the fuel to produce the engine power. Therefore, the sound of a Jake brake cannot go anywhere else than through the very same exhaust system as does the engine under power. If a diesel engine were operating without a muffler, it would be far, far louder under power than the noisy Jake brakes Mr. Darnell is commenting on. The idea that there are unmuffled Jake brakes operating on county roads needs to be put to rest. There simply are none. Inadequately muffled, perhaps (and probably), but definitely not unmuffled.

  3. Okay, Okay…I agree with what was said here by both WSP and KCSO, about, being hard to enforce but that is not fair to our citizens at all. The police show up for loud music and even barking dog complaints. So, I have concluded that it is more of a nuisance issue than a safety issue. Trucks coming down the hill by the hospital in Silverdale can be heard in the rooms of the hospital. However, what we are discussing here does not make it right to use Jake Brakes in residential communities. So, instead of excuses on no enforcement we maybe need to try and fix it. I recently was in a small town in another state that had a sign indicating Jake Brakes Prohibited $250.00 Fine and Enforced at the bottom of the sign. I would bet money that they no longer have any Jake Brake Problems at all. I might add that I used the Brakes because something was in the road and I had to do it would not work. I live on the hill above old town in Silverdale and I can observe the trucks slowing down for a red light on Silverdale Way.. These are not all old trucks using Jake Brake and most likely some people may have modified the exhaust systems on the trucks.
    This issue affects a lot of people so let’s please try and come up with a solution to this terrible situation.
    Drew Painter

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