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Speeding drivers blasted with LRAD sound cannons: An accident waiting to happen?

The LRAD, better described as a sound cannon, is the newest line of defense against speeders, or at least this is the theory. LRADs set-up along construction site areas on the Missouri highway will blast a loud and piercing noise at speeding drivers. The Missouri Department of Transportation has acquired these Long Range Acoustic Devices and they are ready to use them to slow drivers on the highways down.

Missouri DOT plans to blast highway speeders with a very loud noise!
YouTube screen shot/ KMBC News

As the website Jalopnik sarcastically suggests on April 12, blasting speeders with noise is something that is going to go over really well! Why would anyone want to startle a speeding driver in the area of a construction crew? The theory behind this high-pitch blast is that by pointing it at a speeding driver it will remind them to slow down.

That may be the case, but chances are that driver’s reflexes are going to cause them to veer to one side of the road or the other. Hearing such a loud noise from seemingly out of nowhere is most likely going to at least cause the driver to jump a bit in his seat. According to Complex Rides, the flashing lights of a radar sign showing that you are going over the speed limit offers very little consequence. Apparently this is the DOT's answer to making sure there is a consequence.

Speeders might learn a lesson and may very well not speed in a construction site again, but that may come after first wrapping themselves around a tree! These LRAD are used in crowd control and are considered a non-lethal cure for dispersing a crowd. They are also used in “private defense.”

The sound cannon or LRAD can blast up to 153 decibels of noise, which is a dangerous level that could cause damage to the ears. No worries, the DOT will only use a safe number of decibels when warning the drivers. If this sound can disperse a crowd in record time, wouldn’t it make sense that this adverse effect would more than likely urge the driver to speed up to get away from this noise?

A “Boeing 747 taking off right next to your head is"quieter” than the noise these sound cannons are capable of giving off. The Missouri DOT promises that the noise will be within a safe level, as permanent hearing loss begins at decibels of 130 or greater. YouTube is full of funny videos of people reacting when startled. Do you really want to promote that type of reaction from a driver behind the wheel of a speeding car?

According to Before it is News, this LRAD units cost about $25,000 apiece and the Missouri DOT has purchased two of these units. The information that comes along with this technical noise marvel reports that the noise easily penetrates the windshield of a car. This will even “override” sounds of the engine and radio. Residents of Kansas City are “less than thrilled” when learning that their state is the pioneer for blasting speeders with noise.

This story was also reported on “Fox and Friends Weekend” on Sunday April 13 and they convey that the DOT is about to roll out these sound cannons. Not only could these startling noise be a danger to the speeding drivers, but what about the folks driving nearby?

While the LRADs are pointed at the speeding car, once that driver is startled, do you really think they will be able to stay on track? It shouldn’t surprise anyone down the line if the next thing you hear about the DOT’s LRADs is that they’ve been retired for highway use after a few days of using these noise blasters!

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