You finally get to sleep and then it happens, somebody car alarm goes off. Do you look? Most likely you don’t because car alarms go off for many reasons and not because they are alerting anyone to theft.
For this reason, groups are trying to ban the use of car alarms. Liu’s bill, which was introduced in 2002 with nine co-sponsors, would ban the sale and installation of audible car alarms in New York City. Moskowitz’s bill, introduced in April with fifteen co-sponsors, would go further, banning the sale, installation, and use of the alarms. Moskowitz also proposes a mechanism for citizens to report annoying alarms to the police, prompting a warning letter to the car owner.
Would the discontinuation of car alarms lead to more thefts? Unlikely. According to the Highway Highway Loss Data Institute, in 1997, while new vehicle immobilizers cut theft rates in half, the study concludes that cars with alarms “show no overall reduction in theft losses” compared to cars without alarms. The alarms just don’t work.
There are two main reasons that car alarms don’t work. First, people know that the vast majority of blaring car alarms are false alarms, set off by passing trucks, electrical malfunctions, or nothing at all. So no one responds to them — often, not even the car owners themselves. A recent survey by the Progressive Insurance Company found that fewer than one percent of respondents would call the cops upon hearing a car alarm.
Second, alarms are very easy to disable. About 80 percent of stolen cars are taken by professional car thieves, and they know how to deactivate an alarm in just a few seconds, according to police and criminologists.
What do car alarms provide? Noise pollution and health problems.
According to a recent Cornell University study, they found that traffic noise alone raises blood pressure, increases stress hormones, and leads to “learned helplessness” in schoolchildren. Many traffic sounds contribute to the problem, but car alarms, unpredictable and often exceeding 125 decibels, can be especially harmful.
How can you prevent auto theft if you disable your car alarm? There are many other types of anti-theft devices available such as the vehicle immobilizer, tracking systems or silent pagers. Whatever you choose, it will certainly quiet down the streets at night in contrast to the loud beeping of the car alarm that does nothing but annoy the neighbors and possibly truly protect your vehicle.