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Hybrids too quiet?

Montel, not Mantel. :stuck_out_tongue:

June 23, 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration held a hearing on this subject and the public record is available at by searching for “NHTSA-2008-0108-0020” for the opposition research. Some facts: (1) the Prius has the same pedestrian accident rate as ordinary vehicles; (2) no blind has been killed by a Prius; (3) an average of 5 blind pedestrians out of 4,700 pedestrian deaths occur each year; and (4) noise maker cars already kill 4,700 pedestrians per year and more noise, adding to the caucaphony (aka., Boston streets) would not make anyone safer.

Near as we can tell, there have been 4 billion Prius miles since they went on sale in 2000. During that time there have been 110 fatal accidents in which a Prius was one of the vehicles. There have been 11 pedestrian accidents with just a Prius. We ca not find evidence of a Prius, hybrid hazard in the USA. That is what the NHTSA told us in a Freedom of Information Act request to get their chart from Essie Wagner’s presentation at the hearing.

These noise maker laws, H.R. 734 and S.841, are not supported by accident data. A placebo, they draw attention away from effective, anti-collision systems such as are found on the Lexus 250h, SAAB and BMW that detect not only pedestrians but activate the brakes, automatically to save everyone, including the 4,700 who die each year with the sound of an engine just before they are crushed to death.

It is important to contact your Congressman about H.R. 734 and S. 841 in opposition. We need effective pedestrian safety systems not this noise maker nonsense. After all, a faux noise maker is no better than an engine when killing a pedestrian.

Bob Wilson

Because a back-up camera is more effective when in reverse and an automatic pedestrian detecting camera or radar is better in forward driving situations. But a sound system also needs to deal with pedestrians engaged in active conversations, cell phone calls, iPods, and the deaf.

The problem is sound based systems already kill 4,700 pedestrian. You are proposing the same, deadly killing system we already have, not one that is engineered to overcome human inattention or other failings.

Bob Wilson

Where are the bodies? Where is the accident data that shows this is a real hazard?

We know 4,700 pedestrians die each year with engine noise in their ears. There is nothing about a faux noise maker that makes them any safer.

Bob Wilson

I notice you didn’t report having to ‘jump out of the way’. I dare say, if you had been talking on a cell phone, listening to an iPod, or distracted by a small child, you would have been just as surprised by an engine vehicle. The problem is sound already has a deadly, bloody record of crushed bodies.

H.R. 734 and S. 841 will not make you or anyone else safer because the accident data shows there is no hybrid risk. What it will do is be a placebo, a sweet sounding nonsense just before a pedestrian is crushed to death.

We need effective pedestrian collision systems based upon radars or cameras that automatically engaged the brakes and prevent an accident. Engine noise already kills too many.

BTW, the new 2010 Prius has energy absorbing bumpers, quarter panels and a hood to minimize injury and prevent death in the event of a pedestrian-Prius collision. But H.R. 734 and S. 841 fail utterly to mandate these sensible changes for all cars. That is pedestrian safety.

Bob Wilson

That “study” was ‘whole cloth.’ For example, Prof. Rossenblum reports that above 25 mph, both hybrids and non-hybrid have equal levels of noise that comes from tire and wind noise. The NHTSA points out that less than 5% of all pedestrian fatalities occur at speeds under 25 mph. But Rossemblum doesn’t address this in his report. I know because I saw his report at the June 23, 2008 NHTSA hearing in Washington DC.

The ‘jokes and skepticism’ has a basis in facts and data. There is no evidence of an unusual hybrid hazard to pedestrians. Although the blind may not like it, they are not the only ones on the street and H.R. 734 and S. 841 are fatally flawed legislation.

As for back-up beepers, a better answer is a rear view camera so the driver can see what is behind them. That is a real safety feature. Interesting, one of the blind at that hearing complained that these backup beeps are so loud that with the echos, they can’t tell where the vehicle is located.

We need effective safety systems and H.R. 734 and S. 841 mandate the same thing that kills too many pedstrians today.

Bob Wilson

Actually, people who are blind, use the sound of moving cars to keep track of where they are and to keep a straight line when crossing the street. If they can’t hear the car when it moves from a start position at a corner it may be more difficult to cross safely. Also, they won’t be able to hear it when it stops for a light or stop sign and then turns into the street they are crossing-dangerous. They also will not be able to use the sound of traffic to determine WHEN it is safe to cross the street.