Living Alongside the Highway
We live alongside a heavily-used highway, here in northern New Mexico, where three prominent aspects of the local culture contribute to the production of very annoying highway noise.
The first is drunk driving. In an effort to mitigate the carnage derived from drunk driving, the Highway Department has gouged a rumble strip down the center line – but this is a rumble strip like nothing you have seen or heard before. Having been both broadly and deeply dug into the asphalt, these gouges, when driven over, produce, not a rumble, but something akin to the howl of a huge and highly-agitated insect. It is the drunk drivers, of course, that pay little or no attention to the noise.
The second is the pleasure motorcyclists take in making noise, by driving deliberately unmuffled machines, which includes the “rolling thunder” of the Harleys and the ear-splitting high whine of over-revved crotch rockets. Concerning the safety of the latter: ““Crotch rocket” motorcycle riders are four times more likely to die in a crash than riders of other motorcycles, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III).” (www.michiganautolaw.com)
Third is the strangest of all – the wish to listen to extremely loud music while driving. Boom boxes emit bass tones that precede the cars that carry them down the highway. The bass tones are experienced (as much felt as heard) before the sound of the car arrives, and well before the car is seen. It is weird enough to stop conversations.
All these noises carry long distances. Living alongside Highway 68 is the price we pay for living alongside the Rio Grande.