by Scott M. Larson

Savannah Morning News

July 30, 2003

Most days at Patrice Thomas’ house there is a pound, pound, pounding on her home from the outside.

“They are so loud that they rattle the walls,” she said.

“They” are what she calls boom cars. Most people who drive around town have heard them booming music from souped-up car stereos.

Living on Middleground Road, Thomas said she gets more than her fair share and she’s trying to fight back. She and her husband successfully lobbied a group called Noise Free America to name Savannah the winner of their July “Noisy Dozen” award.

Thomas and Noise Free America blame loud, low-frequency music coming from cars for a variety of maladies ranging from delinquency to heart attacks and car accidents. Each month, they single out a single noisy person, company or community for the Noisy Dozen award. “Boom car drivers are truly audio terrorists,” Thomas said.

In the 1990s, the city of Savannah passed a noise ordinance designed to target loud music coming from cars. It hasn’t stopped people from boomin’ their stereos down the road.

For one, loud stereos are a moving target. Secondly, when people see blue lights, they press the minus button on their stereo’s volume control.

Loud stereos are a problem, said Savannah Police Sgt. Gary Parsons, who heads a crime suppression unit that works in Thomas’ area. He knows all about her complaints and one day staked-out her area from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

“Basically, I sat up on Middleground Road listening for stereos. There weren’t that many at that time of day,” he said. “We issued only a handful of citations over four days.”

Police say they aggressively enforce the ordinance. Parsons maintains that the only effective way to get people to turn down their stereo is to have them pay the fine, which can run up to $110 with court fees.

Ted Rueter, director of Noise Free America, blames both poor law enforcement and the stereo industry for the increase in booming cars nationwide.

“Only by confronting the multi-billion dollar noise-industrial complex can the people of Savannah ever find peace and quiet,” Rueter said. “Otherwise, boom car boys will continue to boom in the day and boom in the night.”

In the meantime, Thomas keeps hearing booming stereos in her neighborhood. She and her husband are looking for land. They don’t want to buy in an already developed neighborhood that might fall prey to boom cars in the future.

“We are looking for something very secluded. If this is going to be a problem in the future, we want to be secluded in advance,” Thomas said.