Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Carmel on the Case: Train Horns
It's no secret that there are some very rude drivers here in South Florida. But rudeness is reaching a new low. Drivers are installing train horns. That's right -- extremely loud train horns on their personal vehicles with "startling" results. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- This video is from a CD that is being sold on the internet.
It shows people being blasted by a train horn that's connected to a car, and these horns are hot.
People spend thousands to install them and then, just like the video, drive around scaring unsuspecting victims.
The video is the work of a former Fort Lauderdale man who used his ear splitting train horn to shock folks all over Florida.
Matthew Heller recorded their reactions and is now using it as a commercial of sorts for selling them.
Matthew Heller: "We ship them all over the world."
His demo car has two sets of train horns in the trunk and another behind the grill. He says you can hear it eight miles away.
Matthew Heller: "I can confidently say this is one of the louder vehicles, I mean maybe the loudest vehicle in the world."
And all this noise can hurt. A train horn at about a hundred feet away registers 90 decibels. Exposure to 85 decibels could cause hearing loss. Heller says his horns honk at 158 decibels. That's really loud.
Not only loud but dangerous. A medical expert says, if you're close to one of these horns you're in serious danger of hearing loss. Even if you're only exposed to the blaring sound for under a minute.
Louis Delpino: "If you're standing outside the truck, and you honk the horn, it hurts."
Louis Delpino has five train horns on his big truck. His got him in big trouble when he set it off by accident in front of a police officer.
Louis Delpino: "I think it was something like $170 and almost a ride to jail."
And tooting these big horns is against the law. State law reads: "...No horn or other warning device shall emit an unreasonably loud or harsh sound or whistle."
Lt. Pat Santangelo: "I guess people do it to bring attention to themselves. But if they do it in earshot of a police officer, they're going to get the wrong kind of attention."
Officers are writing tickets, but experts predict it's only a matter of time before the use of a train horn sparks a road rage incident or causes an accident. Because, even if you know the sound is coming, it sends a shock wave through your system.
Matthew Heller: "You can get in trouble with a chain saw. It all really depends on usage. We tell people to use their best judgment."
That's what he says.But his video shows clearly just how tempting it is to use the horns to frighten people and their pets.
And there's no telling how many people will take their cue from this video and go out to torment people in their part of town.
It all depends on what you think is funny.
IF THERE'S SOMETHING YOU THINK CARMEL SHOULD INVESTIGATE, GIVE HER A CALL: