Apparently the threat of a costly ticket isn't enough to slow down drivers passing through work zones on Missouri's highways, so the state is taking extreme measures to solve the dilemma. Missouri's Department of Transportation is preparing to deploy the LRAD sound cannon — a tool (some might say "weapon") that's been used to break up mass gatherings like Occupy Wall Street — to warn motorists that they're going too fast. The device emits a targeted, deafening siren that "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."
The state has already conducted tests with LRAD (embedded below), loading it onto the back of a truck and sending out verbal "slow vehicles ahead" warnings to nearby vehicles. But now Missouri has committed to the technology by purchasing two of the pricey devices. Transportation officials claim that they provide an unmistakable alert about slower roadwork vehicles up ahead, and insist LRAD will only be directed at speeding drivers that haven't yet moved out of work lanes. Still, critics maintain that the ear-piercing nature of the alerts presents a clear danger in and of itself.
LRAD's sirens can reach up to 153 decibels, more than enough to potentially cause hearing damage. This is technology that's been deployed in war zones, after all. Missouri's DOT reportedly insists the tool will only being used at safe levels, but it's easy to see how motorists could become disoriented and wind up in an accident. The element of surprise is an unwelcome one on the road, and that has many drivers crying foul about Missouri's plans.