MISSOURI — A military sound weapon called the LRAD is trickling its way into domestic agencies across the country. Its latest application will be for use against drivers on Missouri’s highways.
The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has purchased two Long Range Acoustic Devices (LRAD) with the intent of deploying them near work zones. The idea is to penetrate nearby vehicles with an overwhelmingly shrill sound to supposedly get them to slow down.
Called a “safety device” by the local media, the LRAD is most famous for use against civilians overseas during military operations. Its 153 dB sound waves are so powerful that they cause bystanders to reel in pain, clutch their ears, and run away.
Carl Gruenler, a former Vice President of American Technology Corporation (which later became LRAD Corporation) said that the device will produce instant headaches, permanent hearing damage, and that “you definitely don’t want to be” within 100 meters of the device. Of course, that was said in 2004, before the company began marketing its weapons to domestic government agencies.
Since then, the LRAD was being delivered to local law enforcement agencies throughout the USA; many through federal grants aimed at militarizing police. By 2009, the LRAD was dramatically used for the first time against Americans, when police mounted it on their armored vehicles and used it to disperse unwelcome protesters in Pittsburgh during the G-20 Summit.
MoDOT employee Michele Compton elaborates: “The sound easily penetrates the windshield and well-insulated cab of a car, even overriding the vehicle’s engine sounds and a radio turned up loud enough to jam to tunes at highway speeds.”
Its unclear if this is method may have unintended consequences, such as frightening drivers and impairing their driving abilities.
The reason we’re seeing more LRAD purchases does not appear to be done out of actual necessity. Car accidents inside construction zones are already rare, and fatalities are minimal. According to the Federal Highway Administration, accidents in work zones make up only 1.6% of the total number of vehicular crashes. In a study of five states, the majority (72.2%) of work zone crashes led to property damage only, and only 0.7% of work zone crashes were fatal.
Is spending taxpayer money on more LRADs actually warranted? Or, are these expensive gadgets being ordered all over the country because the LRAD Corporation is skillful at lobbying politicians, convincing them to order more of their expensive gadgets — in turn militarizing agencies across the country with unneeded equipment? With the recent conclusion of “tax season,” how do taxpayers feel about their hard earned money being spent on sound-cannons?
Flashback: here is an LRAD being used against peaceful protesters in Pittsburgh: