Buzz Bars? What the @%&!™Ð are buzz bars?

3 08 2010

I love buzz bars. I don’t know what they’re really called, I call them buzz bars. Those striations on the road that make your entire car vibrate as you approach an intersection or other roadway feature that requires attentiveness. All other types of warning pale by comparison. Buzz bars make their presence known. Lights are distracting and signs are easily missed, but those buzz bars …

What’s that burning smell?

I start to think about other places these buzz bars could be used, cross walks, school zones, parks perhaps. My mind, being unrestricted by budgetary considerations, starts inventing different types of buzz bars, different patterns for instance. They could buzz out Morse code for different letters, groups of three quick buzzes , the letter ‘S’, if you’re approaching a stop sign, ‘H’ for hospital zone, ‘P’ for park, ‘E’ for educational institution (‘S’ for school was taken, remember? Okay so there might be some bugs to work out).

Whoa Taylor,let’s think on this a bit …

But let’s step back for a minute. I may be getting carried away. Let’s look at what makes these rattling wonders so effective. Signs and lights can slip past in the blink of an eye or while one is looking the other way, a situation I am all too familiar with. Unless you’re driving on the wrong side of the road, buzz bars inject a physical effect into the mix. They insert themselves into your consciousness with an immediacy that can’t be missed, not even by me. Perhaps systems could be developed that do similar things.

Straight line innovation from a twisted mind

What about a small receiver in each vehicle that acquires a signal from a transmitter, interprets that signal and gives the appropriate warning … “Your speed is 113kph and you are 100 metres from a closed bridge, goodbye then.” Too much? How about this then: “ You are now entering a school zone, please proceed with caution.”, “You are approaching a hidden intersection.”, “An emergency vehicle is approaching, please pull over and stop.” These all seem reasonable to me. And do-able! We have the technology, new cars come with new built-in systems all the time. Granted, these new systems are designed to sell cars, not to save lives, but maybe the car manufacturers could be persuaded … hey, I said maybe. It could be like Bluetooth™ handsfree stuff or GPS systems, new cars have it, old cars have retrofits or add-ons.

But what about the cost?

Just for a moment, consider how much it would cost to put a simple transmitter on the front of every emergency vehicle, one that is activated by the siren or flashing light switch. Now add to that the cost of a similar transmitter at every stop sign, hidden driveway and construction zone. Now, consider how many lives it would save. If ‘lives saved’ doesn’t float your boat, think about the health care dollars it might save. … now, I’d buy that …




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