The other day I was standing in the parking lot, next to my car (getting ready to go in to the store) when I heard sirens from an Emergency Vehicle. I couldn’t help but stop and listen to them. One thing that I quickly noticed was how difficult it was to determine what direction they might be coming from.
Knowing the direction of the nearest station, I could deduce (or take a pretty educated guess) the direction that the sirens were coming from. But there was a brief moment or 2 in there (while I was listening) that I questioned that direction as the direction the sounds of the sirens were coming from seemed to change as it bounced off building and other objects.
Luckily, in this incident, I was safely in a parking lot and well out of the way of any Emergency Vehicles that were traveling on their way to an emergency call. But it did bring about a good question. Especially in areas where there are lots of buildings, the sounds from sirens can bounce and seem to come from all directions at once. The confusion of determining the source of the siren and (more importantly) the direction it is coming from can cause panic and chaos in drivers as they try to figure out how to react. It’s easy to say to pull to the right but when you can’t determine the direction of the sound it’s hard to know what to do… Would pulling to the right mean the possibility of cutting in front of an unseen emergency vehicle? And what if the siren you’re hearing is from an Emergency Vehicle is not even in your immediate vicinity? What if it’s, say, traveling parallel to you on a parallel street?
I came across a couple interesting articles that discuss the confusion that comes about by the currently used sirens:
A couple other articles of interest:
Let me know your thoughts both as an Emergency Vehicle driver and a Lay Person driver on sirens used and the effect they have.