Warnings about loud car stereos fall on deaf ears

Ted Hamilton

Saturday I lay in bed, nursing a headache perhaps brought on by the liquor bottles scattered around my room. All of a sudden my windows start shaking and a terrible noise found its way through the glass. Is Kent experiencing an earthquake? Is the building falling down?

I shake off the impossibles as my brain tries to eat through the back of my skull. The noise is actually Kanye West’s “Stronger” blasting from someone’s car stereo. Do not get me wrong, I have nothing against people who listen to his music. Sure, his beats are usually stolen from some other artist and he throws fits when his “creativity” is not recognized by the “artistic” people that run the Grammys or Video Music Awards. Still, I would not want to stop people from enjoying his (cough) music.

People who do not enjoy West’s, or any other music, should not be forced to listen to it from blaring car stereos. It seems to be more of a problem as technological advances make stereo systems cheaper. People have a natural right to enjoy silence and not have to hear music they dislike.

Besides mere annoyance, there are plenty of other reasons for drivers to turn down their stereos. The obvious effects to the listener’s hearing is just the tip of the iceberg. The World Health Organization has documented many health problems that can be caused by loud stereos. Sleep loss and stress to riders in the car are some of the smaller effects. Researchers say loud noise can invoke hypertension, damage individual cells and internal organs, and impede the learning development process.

A difficult time learning new things might say something about the people making the noise.

Respecting people’s rights for quiet and worrying about future health problems is apparently not enough to stop some stereo enthusiasts. What about the effect loud music from car stereos has on people hearing emergency signals? A stereo has to be insanely loud to shut out an ambulance trying to get by. Given a large amount of traffic or construction added with it, it is no wonder why it can be harder for people to hear sirens.

Research has also shown an increase in auto accidents. Depending on the decibel level, music can reduce reaction time by 20 percent. People listening to loud music also tend to drive faster.

In some areas of the United Kingdom police are stopping people and impounding cars if the drivers refuse to turn down the music. That is a little on the extreme side. However, if people are not mature enough to respect other citizens’ rights what choice does that leave for police?

I am not saying everyone should live in silence. I actually have an “after-market” system in my car. I turn up the Devil Driver, Dog Fashion Disco or Rasputina, but I do not turn it up enough to shake cars or rattle teeth. There is no reason to rape the ears of people I do not know.

I am perfectly happy annoying people forced to ride in my car.

Ted Hamilton is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].