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Oak Park High School

Opinion: Here’s why car alarms are useless

You get in the car, towel and picnic basket in hand, and start toward the beach. After five straight days of exhausting school, extracurricular activities and frivolous drama, you are ready for a few hours of peaceful and quiet relaxation.

After an hour in the car on the 20 minute drive (Saturday beach traffic is the best), you find a nice and sunny spot to lay down your things and take in the sanctity of the sea and Southern California weather — but of course, everybody else has other plans.

When you were planning out your perfect day, you must have forgotten about the little kids and their screaming contests, the “complainers,” (it’s too hot, I’m hungry, I want to go home), and, worst of all, the car alarms.

Car alarms are, in my opinion, the most useless pieces of machinery ever invented. Between 95% and 99% of all car alarm triggerings are false alarms! I personally have never seen a car alarm go off because of an actual intruder.

In fact, according to a study done in 1997, cars with alarms don’t actually reduce theft losses!

For this reason, whenever I hear that rhythmic cacophony nearby, is my first thought, “Oh no, somebody is trying to steal a car. I should go and try to help?” No! My first thought is, “turn off your alarm, you great buffoon!”

Now, yes. It can be argued that car alarms are important because even the 1 to 5% of times that car alarms are actually alerting you of an intruder is a lot, and if alarms can help deter thieves from stealing more cars, they are important.

However, in the off chance that you do hear a car alarm because of a thief, what are you going to do? Go after the thief and risk getting injured over a car? I have seen enough horror movies to know that you never go toward the loud noise!

So, you may be wondering thinking something along the lines of, “OK then, if you think car alarms are so useless, do you have a better idea?”

Well actually, I do — or at least, the city of Winnipeg does.

Between the years of 2003 and 2008, car thefts cost the city of Winnipeg upwards of $40 million annually! In addition, the average age of a car thief stealing their first car was 13!

Winnipeg decided to scrap the concept of car alarms and try something new. Along with youth outreach programs and an increase in counseling for kids, they decided to make all owners of “at risk cars” get immobilization systems, which don’t allow the car to run unless the correct key is present.

This worked! Within the next few years, car thefts in Winnipeg went down 84%. However, that is not the point I’m trying to make. We cannot allow ourselves to use such useless tools as car alarms for such real problems like theft! Moreover, we cannot wait until the problem becomes as big as it did in Winnipeg before we find a better solution!

With all these statistics proving that car alarms aren’t enough anymore, why do we allow ourselves to just ignore the problem until it affects us personally? It’s time for a change, from finding easy, useless short term answers to looking for more complex and effective solutions.