Known as Jake brakes, they make a loud, shuddering, reverberating thunking noise that seems to rattle windows and irritates residents who live along grades frequented by heavy trucks and equipment.
“It is very loud and very distracting. It is breaking the sound barrier. Especially if you are in a residential community,” said Waynesville Mayor Gavin Brown.
Jake brakes release built-up compressed air to slow the engine, producing a machine-gun like chatter. Truck drivers use them to save wear and tear on their real brakes — a matter of maintenance costs and not necessity.
The town banned the use of Jake brakes in 2006 along Allens Creek Road, which sees excessive truck traffic en route to and from a rock quarry. The thundering sound of Jake brakes was a near constant backdrop for residents along Allens Creek as dozens of dump trucks passed up and down the road to the quarry daily.
But it recently dawned on town leaders this wasn’t the only community plagued by trucks deploying Jake brakes. From construction traffic on Eagles Nest to tractor-trailers on Russ Avenue, the noise from Jake brakes was a nuisance in other neighborhoods as well.
“We thought, ‘Why are we doing this in one area?’ The problem is not peculiar to Allens Creek. There are issues in the rest of the community,” Brown said.
Signs will be posted at entrances to the town alerting truck drivers to the new ordinance.