Q. Yesterday I was driving east on Ball Road in Cypress toward a green light but traffic was stopped. Then I see, at Valley View Street, an Orange County fire truck with siren and emergency lights on. But I did not hear the siren until the truck was at the intersection. When I was a kid, sirens were LOUD! Does the Orange County Fire Authority use directional sirens that go one way? Or have they lowered the volume on sirens?
Mario Luna, Anaheim
A. Yes, the sirens are directional, in that they are in the bumpers and pointed straight ahead.
And, no, the volume has not been turned down, Capt. Larry Kurtz of the Orange County Fire Authority assured Honk.
In fact, the OCFA, which serves 23 cities and unincorporated stretches of Orange County, has old-school mechanical sirens that have a higher pitch with the sound rising and falling, in addition to newer electronic ones. Engineers often deploy both.
Drivers can certainly get confused, not knowing where the sound is coming from, with sirens sound bouncing off walls and buildings and, Kurtz said, other vehicles can absorb the blast.
Maybe you just have a new ride, Mario – the good captain said newer vehicles, in part because doors are better sealed, keep out noise more than before.
Q. I have lived in Anaheim Hills for the last 45 years, and the 91 freeway has never worked during rush-hour except during the 1984 Olympic Games. Trucks traveled at night, which freed up space for cars, and trucks had less traffic at night, too. It worked really well, why don’t we now continue this policy?
Marc Reynolds, Anaheim
A. Public agencies, notably Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol and Los Angeles County’s bus system, did a lot of nice stuff back then, Marc, but the public can mostly thank itself.
Ramp meters were leaned on more than usual to ensure freeways were flowing, a section on the I-5 freeway that allowed driving on the shoulder during peak hours had extended hours, and freeway maintenance and construction was halted.
Maps pointing out where congestion was expected were handed out – the public was pretty scared, as you likely recall.
The wild success of free-flowing traffic during the Olympics, though, was largely because Southern Californians voluntarily changed work shifts so employees didn’t drive during rush-hour, took vacation days instead of going to work near sports venues, and those who drive semis often made deliveries in off-peak hours.
So far, things are looking swell for 2028,…