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NYC Lawmakers Call For Less Piercing Emergency Vehicle Sirens


This radio program rarely plays the sound of sirens.


Many people, we know, listen in the car. And we don't want you to crash while looking around for an ambulance that isn't there. So if you're driving, be warned here. We are about to play sirens.

INSKEEP: And it is necessary because this is a story of the sound of sirens. New York City Council member Helen Rosenthal says residents complained of sirens piercing the silence.

HELEN ROSENTHAL: Constituents came up to me and said, what's going on with the sirens? Is the noise getting louder? There were just a lot of complaints.

GREENE: Rosenthal says noise pollution is a problem, and she supports changing the sound of sirens. She wants more vehicles to use the so-called high-low frequency heard on many European streets and on ambulances from one New York hospital.

ROSENTHAL: Over the last few years, since the pilot has been going on, the response we're getting is positive. A lot of people are coming in and thanking us and saying this is a really great solution.

GREENE: And here's what we mean by that sound. And again, be warned - this siren is not on the street behind your car.


GREENE: Sounds like Europe, right? So this change has New Yorkers talking. Here's "Saturday Night Live's" Colin Jost on Weekend Update last month.


COLIN JOST: New York City lawmakers have also proposed a new law that would change the sound of emergency vehicle sirens to resemble those used in Europe, that way when - you can spend your ride in the ambulance pretending you have universal health care.


INSKEEP: Now, supporters of this change caution us that New Yorkers should not get too excited about going European just yet because the process to modify the city's sirens will take some time, meaning the public can still debate this, if they are heard over the sound. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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