Tinted windows, hydraulic lowriders, and booming music were the trends in the 1990s, but today, one of the latest in-things that isn't new by any means is called "straight piping," which mimics the sound of head-splitting rapid gunfire.

It's a freighting craze that, in a crowded Times Square, caused a dangerous pandemonium among pedestrians.

It's hard to differentiate between the simulated and real gunfire sounds. This problem is everywhere, including the SouthCoast.

The Dartmouth Police Department posted on its Facebook page recently that it's not only illegal to modify a muffler so it amplifies the noise emitted by the exhaust, but it's very illegal. Of course, when has that stopped anyone?

I'm wondering whether citizens phoned in complaints of shots being fired when in actuality, it was the gunshot-like sounds coming out of a straight-piped muffler? I'm told the sound also could fool ShotSpotter, acoustic sensors used by the New Bedford Police Department to detect gunfire. Aside from the powerful sounds, flames also shoot out of the exhaust system for added drama.

I think about the children and the innocent people who could get hurt in a stampede if a straight-piped vehicle went past a crowded street, and ended up having dangerous unintended consequences.

For those not particularly automotive-inclined, it can be hard to understand why some individuals get their thrills having their vehicle alert the whole neighborhood to their presence. They love the attention. People find different ways to give their egos a lift, like the folks who equate the sound of a thunderous muffler to power, brute force and brawn.

Phil Paleologos is the host of The Phil Paleologos Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. Contact him at phil@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @PhilPaleologos. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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