MONCTON – Codiac RCMP have started using a new type of siren that you’ll not only hear, but feel as well.
The new sirens are known as the Rumbler Intersection-Clearing System. They emit a low-frequency, which creates a vibration.
“Definitely different,” said Mark McGraw, a pedestrian who was nearby as the RCMP demonstrated the new system. “I was telling my wife, it sounds like an 80s sci-fi film because some effects were added to the original ones.”
“There’s probably some times when I would notice the police coming, but couldn’t hear anything,” said his wife, Joanie McGraw. “I would see the lights, but couldn’t hear any sound, so I see that would probably get our attention a lot quicker than the normal sirens.”
The siren uses an amplifier and two sub-woofers to modulate the sound of the siren for eight seconds. It doesn’t replace the existing siren, but adds a second system.
“In some cases when people are not moving out of the way for emergency vehicle response, we can activate the siren, which gives us an eight-second burst of low-frequency and that low frequency can actually be felt by the drivers and pedestrians around,” said Cst. Damien Thériault, spokesperson for the Codiac Regional RCMP.
Thériault said the RCMP often encounter drivers that don’t stop or move over.
“After the fact, people will tell us, ‘I never heard the siren,’ so sometimes it’s a case of listening to music too loud or having other distractions in the vehicle. So it is an issue. It’s a safety issue,” he said.
Another problem is that newer vehicles are often designed to cut outside noise, according to Colin Novak, a professor in the Engineering department at the University of Windsor, who has researched the way sound from traditional and rumbler police sirens travel towards other cars.
“The fact that it’s a low frequency allows it to penetrate into the vehicle much better than a traditional siren, and the fact that it modulates, it grabs a person’s attention a lot more effectively,” he said.
Novak explained that the higher frequency of a standard siren means that it is very directional, so if you’re not in line with the speaker of the siren, it is not as effective. Traditional sirens can also be impacted by something called the “shadowing effect.”
“Let’s say an emergency vehicle is approaching an intersection, perpendicular to a row of cars, where one car might be blocking another car, the results of our research have shown that one receiver car can actually be shadowed by the second car from the siren,” he said.
The Codiac RCMP is the first detachment in New Brunswick to use the new rumblers, but other police forces in Canada, including the Vancouver Police Force, already use it.
In Moncton, the rumblers are only installed in two cars, but they will be added to more cars as new ones are put in service.