Hybrids may be too quiet for blind pedestrians ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Hybrids may be too quiet for blind pedestrians

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hybrids may be too quiet for blind pedestrians

The National Federation of the Blind is calling for some changes to hybrids. It seems they run too quietly for them to hear when they are crossing the street.

Full hybrid cars run off of an electric motor when driving at low speeds. Even mild hybrids turn the motor off when stopped. Since blind pedestrians rely on that noise to gauge when it's safe to cross the street, hybrids are definitely worrying them.

The National Federation of the Blind is calling for hybrids to emit some sort of sound when moving. And it would need to be loud enough to hear over any background noise. They have two suggestions so far: 1) device placed on axle making noise or 2) a device blind people can carry that indicates when a hybrid is in the area.

The Federation would like to point out that the dangers are not limited to the blind, but to the elderly, cyclists and other pedestrians. I would also point out it can be dangerous to animals crossing the road or sitting in driveways.

No formal meeting has taken place between automakers and any blind advocacy groups, such as the NFB as of yet. One of the highlights of driving a hybrid is how quietly it runs at low speeds or when stopped. But I'm also sure automakers and owners would not want any blind pedestrians hurt because of it.

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Anonymous said...

Simple Solution. Create a watch for the blind that uses sound to indicate the approach of an electric car. Then you can have electric cars, and you remove the hazard for the blind.

Unknown said...

I'm not sure how simple that is, or effective. Making sure that every blind person has such a watch would be difficult to manage, if you ask me. It might be easier to make sure a hybrid (or electric) car makes some noise. Even being non-impaired myself, it can be quite startling to see a hybrid just start moving without any other indicator.

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