Drivers failing to yield for emergency vehicles due to modern car features

This cocoon of modern cars, per NBC, poses a big problem. In one exchange between the NBC Nightly News reporter and Colorado South Metro Fire Rescue Battalion Chief, Mauricio Segura, we can hear the two say, respectively:

“This guy right in front of you’s not moving...”

“Nope. They can’t hear me.”

Emergency departments around the U.S. are trying to adapt to today’s quiet car cabins in various ways, such as running two sirens simultaneously or using new “rumbler” sirens, which send vibrating pulses that add urgency to the wail of the siren. But modern car noise dampening and insulation is improving ever year. This is heaping on to the hazards emergency drivers and their passengers face.


Fire Department and EMS response times average seven and eight minutes in American cities. And the difference between life and death can be anywhere between 10-15 seconds in certain cases, according to NBC. Or, in the case of a heart attack victim, ten minutes is a mortal window of time. Likewise, fires can reportedly get out of control in just about 30 seconds.

This means that drivers need to stay alert and responsive so they can yield to emergency vehicles, but that’s getting hard to do when our new cars are actively preventing loud noises from entering the cabin.


It’s possible that the Internet-of-Things can present a solution whereby emergency responders alert drivers via infotainment screens. But until then, we’re going to have to keep watching the rearview and listening for emergency vehicles from within in our impossibly quiet car cabins.

Image for article titled New Cars Are So Good at Blocking Out Noise, It's Getting Harder to Hear Emergency Vehicles
Screenshot: YouTube