Safety Concerns Grow in Silence ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Safety Concerns Grow in Silence

Monday, May 12, 2008

Safety Concerns Grow in Silence

Hybrid cars are both praised and damned for their silently running engines. Most people get excited when they hear how the gas engine shuts off, saving their owners money and reducing the amount of gas used by a nation dependent on oil.

But not everyone. With the federation of blind pushing for a minimal noise regulation, and a report by a mother on how her child was hit by a car because he wasn't aware the Prius was coming (more on this later), there's a new class for guide dogs that helps train them in detecting and warning their persons a hybrid car they can't hear is coming.

The dogs are being trained in Oregon. Guide Dogs for the Blind's Boring campus received a Prius as a donation from a student in January and began using the car in traffic training in late March.

But the blind aren't the only ones at risk. I'm seeing a rise in the number of stories about how pedestrians and bicyclists are being put at risk because they don't hear the hybrid car coming.

The story by KARE11 is the first time I've seen an actual story claiming someone was hit by a Prius because it was too quiet. Unfortunately, the story itself leaves a lot to be desired. I really want to rip it apart because the kid that was hit probably would have been hit by any car coming along simply because he wasn't paying attention. Also, it was the mother (who was not there) who said her kid was hit because it wasn't loud enough.

But, the danger is real. Whether someone has been hit, yet, is irrelevant. There is a clear and present danger here. People do depend on their hearing, perhaps too much, on detecting danger. A small noise, probably undetectable from within the cabin, is not too much to ask. It would be a good idea for the car companies to get out in front of this issue and create a fix sooner, rather than wait for someone to get hurt and sue, or for the regulations to poor in.

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1 comment:

Nozferatu said...

Most noise from a vehicle is road noise most of the I'm not sure why this is a problem.

After 15 MPH, there's enough tire noise from most cars to make people aware of them. The Pruis is no different.

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