You probably experience it somewhat often: you stop at a red light. Perhaps you're tuned into National Public Radio's All Things Considered or enjoying the Black Keys at a somewhat sensible level. As you're waiting for the light to change, a rhythmic boom begins to rattle the air freshener that's hanging from your rear view mirror. It drowns out every sound that should, in general, be audible - your phone's ringtone; the siren of an ambulance that may be trying to maneuver through rush hour traffic.
For many drivers (and passengers), excessively loud car stereos - ones that practically make your car shake - are an annoyance; though nothing about which anyone can really do. Until now.
On Friday, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced the launch of Operation Lower the Boom. It's an effort to encourage civilians to report excessively loud car stereos.
"One of the things we all experience is excessively loud noise," he said at a Friday press conference. "It's shattering, if you will, the windows of your car. The windows are vibrating. People are not being considerate."
Judy Ellis, of Noise-Free Florida, said her concern stems not from being irritated while stopped at red lights, but rather from living in a neighborhood where many drivers blast their stereos. Ellis said it's a matter of public health. What concerns her the most is the hearing impairment that young children may experience as a result of excessive stereo noise.
"By the time these children reach college," she said, "they'll already be severely impaired."
One key aspect of the campaign is the ability for citizens to act when they think a driver is blasting his or her stereo at an inappropriate level. All the offended party needs to do is take down the license plate number of the offending vehicle, visit pcsoweb.com, fill out a form, and the person to whom the vehicle is registered will be responsible for a hefty fine.
Gualtieri did not say how the sheriff's office would deal with incidents that fall into the gray area.
*updated 2:57 p.m. Jan. 17.