Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Quiet part-electric cars danger to the blind


…HA has not seen one yet, to her knowledge, but apparently these hybrid cars purr along softly.

…Writing in the LA Times (Mar 29, 2008), Martin Zimmerman points out that blind people instinctively rely on sound to locate danger and cars such as the Prius are too darn quiet.

…With her impaired vision, HA also listens more, so she can relate. And now she worries that her first experience with a hybrid may be with one on top of her.

…At low speed, in electric mode, these things are quiet as a golf cart.

…Of course, this also affects, kids, joggers, pets, and people who may use their ears more than they know (that would be you).

…The National Federation for the Blind may push for legislation requiring a noise emitting device on these vehicles.

…Of course, hybrid owners don’t like that one. One woman has noticed vehicles “creeping up on her,” then she got a Prius and realized the enemy was her!

…It’s when the cars are in electric mode that it’s dangerous. But now all-electric cars are coming.

…The problem is that a buzz or chirp that might be added will not be identified as a vehicle. Engineers are trying to isolate what people do identify with a car—engine revving, tire noise, fan belt, what?

…In the meantime, even if you can see—be careful out there. It’s great to be green, but a red splotch, not so much.

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