Transportation officials mulling over local company's 'sound cannons'

CARMEL MOUNTAIN - It is loud, attention grabbing, and if a local company gets its way, it could be coming to a roadway near you.

The devices are sound cannons, created by Carmel Mountain-based LRAD Corporation.

“It creates a concentrated beam of sound,” said company spokesperson Brian Harvey.

“It’s a 15- to 30- degree beam,” said Harvey.

10News first showed you the technology two years ago     

Initially used by the military on ships and convoys to issue warnings, the LRAD, or long –range acoustic device, has been used by law enforcement to disperse protests.  

Last year, transportation officials from Missouri mounted the units on trucks, warning drivers of approaching work zones in a research project with the University of Missouri.

In the last two years, drivers in Missouri -- many of them distracted -- have hit work crews 44 times, killing 16 workers.        

“They were finding people were ignoring the warning lights,” said Harvey.

In the Missouri demonstration, the sound beams are sent through the front of the vehicles. Because it's a concentrated beam, you can hear it above the engine, traffic, and the radio. 

While some say it's a good idea, critics worry it could startle people and cause accidents.

Harvey points out the decibel level in the vehicle is about 60 decibels - not much louder than a normal conversation.

If the results of a pilot study show the devices are making roads safer, Harvey says the company will seek to market it to other states.

The results of the study are due out later this month or in July.

Traffic engineers in Missouri believe the device has increased merging distances in work zones.       

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