While taking my children to school the other morning we made our way down Louisiana Ave when out of nowhere a mechanized voice akin to Robocop infiltrated the audio space of our car with some form of intrusive alert like “WARNING! THIS VEHICLE IS MAKING A LEFT TURN.” I almost jumped out of my skin, jerking the steering wheel just so. What the hell was that!? I muttered to myself.
Apparently, it was city bus. Seemingly retrofitted with what I’m sure would be billed as a “safety device,” a voice alarm detailing what the bus driver intends to do. Now maybe you have yet to encounter this unexpected jaunt into the future, but I say cease and desist on this so-called improvement before it causes more mayhem than it purports to avoid. I was inside my car, and I was startled. What about those on the outside? Pedestrians, bicyclists, et al? I’m pretty sure if I was pedaling my way some place and this alert came over the air I’d be even more jostled. Not cool RTA, not cool.
Whatever happened to good old fashioned driving skills? Blind spots aside, we’ve come this far in our driving evolution without a computer shouting out intent, why start now? The majority – nay ALL – of the other vehicles on the road do not do this, so what if we all got wise to this and drove around with amped up bullhorns outside our rides? A cacophonous mess, that’s what:
“I’M TURNING LEFT!”
“I’M TURNING RIGHT!”
Now multiply that by every vehicle out there. It’s enough to make you wish for some overly energetic if not mildly irritating bounce music.
All things being equal New Orleans remains a relatively quiet burg. Noisier in the day sure, but there are some spots at night the quiet is downright unnerving. Parades and second lines have a way making an auditory mark too of course. I frankly prefer it on the silent side but have no bones on the noise per se; everything in moderation. Just tell my neighbor’s dogs that, would you?
Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.