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by Peter Moskos

October 26, 2009

Get Ready to Ruuuuuummmmmble!

NYPD cars are getting a low-frequency device to supplement their lights and siren.

Why do I have the feeling I'm not going to like this.

I think sirens should be quieter, not louder. We don't need to escalate noise in the city. The problem isn't that people don't notice lights and sirens, it's that they don't care. I don't see the Rumbler changing that.


David Bratzer said...

We've had rumblers in our cars for the last year or so. I love 'em.

A lot of vehicles these days are fairly sound proof, and it is even harder for a driver to hear a siren when they have the stereo on and they are talking on their cell phone. But with the rumbler, trust me, drivers will notice. And the nice thing is that the noise is fairly low pitch, so if you're two blocks away inside your house it is not a high intensity noise that will annoy you.

So many officers die in car accidents, often while driving lights and sirens to a call. I think the rumbler improves officer and public safety.

PCM said...

Maybe they're not so bad.

I'm just very skeptical of the escalation of lights and sirens. Especially living in New York.

And I don't want my house shaking on a regular basis.

But if they work and aren't too annoying, then bring them on.

David Bratzer said...

Well, I suspect that New York city has a very special class of drivers, so I am sure comment about people ignoring sirens is very true there!

Here in Canada we are so polite that most drivers - if they hear the siren - will pull over.

PCM said...

I think one of the problems is that when people see a police car going lights and siren behind them their first thought isn't, "how do I get out of the way" it's "oh shit! Am I being pulled over?" So they drive carefully and slowly, looking for a safe place to pull over. That's not bad if you are being pulled over. But sometimes I just want you the hell out of my way!

I wonder if it's any different for ambulance drivers.

Anonymous said...

Very tangentially related per peeve:

The new bright strobes on top of school busses. I catch them in my peripheral vision and they always make me look up at the top of the bus, and thereby take my focus on what is in front of my car. If they are far away then I think it is an emergency vehicle -- eventually it will be an emergency vehicle and I will not pay sufficient attn because my mind thought it was just a school bus. It is even worse when the bus is nearby, because you tend to lift your eyes away from the road just when you should be looking at the road.

They are going to cause more kids to be run over, not fewer. Drivers are going to looking up at the top of the bus when little Joey darts out in front of them. Mark my words.

PCM said...

I'm with you.

I do not want to live in world where every damn vehicle beeps and flashes! Enough already.

Jeff said...

DC police have flashing white strobe lights on all the time.

The first few times I saw them in my rear view mirror, I had the oh shit moment and started to pull over.

Now I just ignore them. Not sure whats going to happen if they ever do want to pull me over.

A link to a news story on them..

Marc S. said...

"I wonder if it's any different for ambulance drivers."

Not really, which leads me to believe that your "looking for a safe place to pull over" theory is wrong. I think the most annoying drivers fall into three classes: "panicked," inconvenienced" and "opportunist"

The panicked driver sees the ambulance coming and goes into brain lock. Often they just jack on their brakes without pulling over or swerve in a random direction.

The inconvenienced driver sees you coming and is concerned that they will be delayed or miss their turn if they pull to the right and stop like they're supposed to. THey do stuff like pull into the left turn lane and stop because that's where they're going or do the shit where they move over a foot and slow theit car down from 50 to 43 as to say, "i recognize that you are there but i've got places to be". Some speed up thinking that if they can stay ahead of the ambulance they don't have to stop (cops probably don't get this one)

The opportunist sees the ambulance coming and thinks "good, all these people have stopped for the ambulance, now I can make that left turn." These are the people that make me wish my ambulance had a rocket launcher. They're also the ambulance chasers.

Marc S. said...

And another thing, driving the bus i have no discretion how i respond to calls. Every call regardless of severity--even if it's a call i know is bullshit from a frequent flyer--gets a lights and sirens response.

Frankly, it's unneccecary, dangerous and the policy should be reviewed. Furthermore, sometimes i feel like i can get to calls just as fast or faster without running L&S and observing traffic lasw than i can otherwise. Regardless, the safety risk in my mind completely outweighs the benefit of getting to someones stubbed toe or 3 day old flue-like symptoms 30 seconds sooner.