Quiet Hybrids Cause Concern for Blind Pedestrians

April 11, 2008 05:18 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Legislation introduced in Congress would require a study to determine whether hybrid vehicles should make more noise to warn the blind and other pedestrians.

30-Second Summary

In an Associated Press video, blind people stood next to hybrid vehicles in a parking lot. One man asked “is that thing on now?” and when someone off-camera said it was, replied, “that’s scary.”

Two congressional representatives introduced a bill this week to study hybrid vehicles’ lack of noise, and how that can impact pedestrians. One group welcomed the bill.

“The blind, like all pedestrians, must be able to travel to work, to school, to church, and to other places in our communities without being injured or killed,” said Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, in a news release.

The blogosphere is mostly sympathetic to blind pedestrians. T. Reid, a visually impaired blogger, is frustrated that studies are needed “to prove what’s already known,” but is glad that people are paying attention to the problem.

However, an unnamed blogger at the Prius Owners Group says the quiet is among the hybrids’ best attributes, and doesn’t believe that the cars should be changed to meet one group’s needs.

One reporter suggests creating a new sound for hybrid cars, “one that encapsulates their non-threatening nature, low carbon emissions and position at the cutting edge all at once. After designing the instantly recognizable Windows 95 sound, perhaps Brian Eno could help,” wrote Tom Simonite.

With H.R. 5734, the Department of Transportation would have to spend two years studying the issue, and then make a recommendation to Congress. Within 90 days of issuing that recommendation, the Secretary of Transportation would have to “establish a minimum vehicle safety standard for all new vehicles sold in the United States.”

Watch AP Coverage

Headline link: U.S. representatives introduce pedestrian safety act

Opinion and analysis: How quiet is too quiet?

Reference link: Complete text of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act


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