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Hybrids too quiet?

Today it is expected that a new law will be proposed in the US Congress to require Hybrids and battery powered cars to make more noise.
<br/> It appears the blind community feels there may be a safety hazard connected with the new technology. The bill includes a two year study time to determine the hazard and the need for new regulation.


  • edited April 2008
    Turthfully, I am not surprised to hear that hybrids pose a danger to blind people. A woman who works in my office building has a Prius, and when she is parking her car or driving slowly through the parking lot, it is absolutely silent.

    Since a couple of other employees (who were not paying attention) have had close calls with her car while they were walking in the parking lot, it is very believeable that a blind person would be unable to detect when a hybrid car is approaching at low speed.
  • edited April 2008
    Does this mean mandatory earth moving vehicle style beepers on hybrids when they are in EV mode?
    How about the playing card in the spokes style noisemakers that we all put on our bicycles when we were kids?
    Maybe we should make them sound like George Jetson's flying saucer car.
  • edited April 2008
    You took the words out of my mouth.

    Very unsanitary.

    But give the level of inattention of so many drivers out there, I think the visually-impaired have good cause to be nervous.
  • edited April 2008
    Fit them with a little model airplane engine without a muffler?
  • edited April 2008
    I've had a similar experience to your coworkers'. I was walking along the road in a state park last summer and a Prius came up behind me. I didn't even hear it until it was practically on top of me, and I didn't realize it was a car until I turned around because it was only making a faint whining noise. I can definitely see why they'd be a danger to the blind community, although it'll be interesting to see what sort of noise is added.
  • edited April 2008
    A new market for the down load of cell phone ring tones. I think they should all sound like ice cream trucks.
  • edited April 2008
    Well, I for one hope that no one takes this idea seriously. It's not that hybrids in electric mode, or pure electrics, don't make *any* sound. They most certainly do. It's just that people aren't used to the sounds they do make. Yes, they are quieter, but tires on the road and a certain amount of wind noise is inevitable. Once enough of these cars are on the streets people will come to associate the sounds they do make with automobiles. Right now, our brains tend to filter out the non-dangerous sounds and since these don't sound like a car with a running engine our brains just don't alert us. If we get to a point where electric vehicles are more common we'll start hearing them just fine.

    The idea of noisemakers on quiet cars reminds me of the old turn of the (20th) century laws requiring a man with a red flag to walk ten paces ahead and another ten paces behind any automobile. They were dangerous and might spook the horses you know ;-)
  • edited April 2008
    I'm sure there's tons of Mickey Mantel and Babe Ruth rookie cards out there for everyone of these cars. :P
  • edited April 2008
    Gosh, assuming the driver is looking out the front window, it seems there shouldn't be much problem. So, I wonder if there is a real danger, or if people get frightened when it appears without warning. I mean, do we assume a driver is going to run down anyone in front of them?
  • edited April 2008

    No, we can't assume that a driver of a hybrid is going to run down someone in front of him/her, but the fact remains that pedestrians are hit by cars daily and many of these incidents are the result of driver inattention. Just as a driver needs to drive defensively, a pedestrian needs to walk defensively when crossing a street.

    But, when a vehicle is silent (or at least unusually quiet), it is that much harder for a pedestrian to guard against being hit by a car driven by an inattentive driver. And, if the pedestrian is blind, major problems could result.
This discussion has been closed.