Tractor-trailer drivers often use "Jake Brakes," or compression brakes, to slow down their rig without using traditional wheel brakes.
Harlem City Council passed an ordinance at a recent meeting banning the use of Jake Brakes, or compression brakes, inside the city limits. The brakes are used by truckers as they slow down. Some people have complained they make too much noise.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Noise complaints about such brakes have now led the Harlem City Council to pass an ordinance banning nonemergency use of the brakes inside city limits.
"It seems to be a perpetual problem," Mayor Scott Dean said of the compression brakes.
U.S. highways 78/278 and 221 run through Harlem, bringing many tractor-trailers through the city, which has a 35 mph speed limit. Many homes line the highways.
City officials say compression brakes aren't needed and are being used as a convenience so drivers don't have to downshift to slow down their rigs.
"In terms of Jake Brakes, the biggest problem is the noise," said Chief Jerry Baldwin, of the Harlem Department of Public Safety. "That is the biggest issue. Not that they have a need for them here. It's flatland."
The ban will go into effect as soon as the Georgia Department of Transportation installs signs informing truckers. Baldwin said truckers violating the ban will be cited with a $500 to $1,000 penalty per violation.
According to www.jake brake.com, a Web site for Jacobs Vehicle Systems, which opposes Jake Brake bans, loud noise is not caused by the compression brakes because each new vehicle is required to meet noise requirements before leaving the plant. The company states on its Web site that the real problem is modified or poorly maintained exhaust systems.
Harlem residents and officials, though, have a different take on the situation.
"I was an actual witness to a vehicle coming into the city on Highway 78 Wednesday morning," Councilman Johnny Thigpen said at the council's most recent meeting. "The truck started to decelerate and the Jake Brake was going from there (the city limits) all the way to the stop sign (at U.S. Highway 221). It went right past our city manager's house and it was loud. I don't know how she could sleep."
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