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Bill is sponsored by Senators John Kerry and Arlen Specter

One of the big forms of pollution in major cities that won't harm the environment is noise pollution. All of the vehicles on the road produce a significant amount of noise. The noise that cars produce often allows pedestrians to hear when a car is close to them and helps them to avoid accidents.

The problem according to some Senators is that many of the new electric and hybrid vehicles produce little or no noise making them hazardous to the blind and visually impaired pedestrian. To remedy this issue, Senators John Kerry and Arlen Specter have introduced a bipartisan bill (S.841) that intends to protect the blind and visually impaired form the dangers created by these near-silent vehicles. The bill is called the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. If adopted, the bill will require the Secretary of Transportation to conduct a study on how to protect the visually impaired form being injured or killed by hybrid, electric and other silent engine vehicles.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind said in a statement, "The National Federation of the Blind appreciates the wise and decisive action taken today by Senators Kerry and Specter to preserve the right to safe and independent travel for the blind. The blind, like all pedestrians, must be able to travel to work, to school, to church, and to other places in our communities without being injured or killed. This bill will benefit all pedestrians for generations to come as new vehicle technologies become more prevalent. The blind of America will do everything in our power to ensure its swift passage."

To most people, one of the big benefits of hybrid and electric vehicles is that they product little noise. One possible way that the bill could affect hybrid cars is by forcing manufacturers to use a system that produces artificial noise. Lotus has already developed a system that uses speakers under a vehicle to produce sound to alert pedestrians of the cars location.

Senator John Kerry said, "I'm a major proponent of hybrid vehicles -- I own one, I drive one, and I've seen firsthand their environmental and economic benefit. The market is demanding new technologies in the auto industry, and Americans are demanding we finally kick our foreign oil addiction. As we continue to promote our energy independence, however, we must do more to ensure the safety of those who use senses other than sight to navigate the roads. I look forward to working with Secretary LaHood to ensure that hybrid vehicles are safe for everyone."

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Lack of Noise
By InfantryRocks on 4/23/2009 12:09:33 PM , Rating: 5
Wasn't the lack of noise made by electric motors supposed to be one of the benefits to leaving behind the ghastly internal combustion engine?

Save the planet--run over blind people!

RE: Lack of Noise
By StevoLincolnite on 4/23/2009 12:14:24 PM , Rating: 3
They could always install an external sound system to Electrics so instead of the "Eeeeeeeeeeeee" sound that they make you get a "Vroooooooooom!" - Just like real cars! And sounds cooler to boot. :)

RE: Lack of Noise
By Mr Perfect on 4/23/2009 1:00:30 PM , Rating: 3
What was that one internet video where it was some guy just making fake car noises? It was a year or two back. He was just saying things like "Bring dingdingding Bwaaaaa! Bwaaaaa! Weeee!". People had it as ring tones and such. Might as well have some fun with this. Use that.

RE: Lack of Noise
By Spivonious on 4/23/2009 1:08:54 PM , Rating: 3
and then they made it into that accursed Crazy Frog song.

RE: Lack of Noise
By Souka on 4/23/2009 1:33:26 PM , Rating: 2
In cities, just cut grooves into the pavement like they did in the honda comerical...

That way, all cars are treated equally... no car-siscm...

RE: Lack of Noise
By austinag on 4/24/2009 1:15:26 PM , Rating: 2
Take a lesson form New York drivers; honk the damn horn. Problem solved.

RE: Lack of Noise
By dever on 4/25/2009 1:35:25 PM , Rating: 4
And for those who are both blind and deaf, they'll require the vehicles create foul-smelling emissions of burnt whale blubber & sulfur pumped toward pedestrians.

For those who can't see, hear or smell, vehicles will be required to drag a giant ball and chain that can shake the sidewalks.

Thanks for looking out for me. We love you Washington DC. Hugs & Kisses. My congressman is so smart... and dreamy.

RE: Lack of Noise
By Mr Perfect on 4/23/2009 1:49:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, that's the one. Any idea what it's called(the origonal clip, not the song)?

RE: Lack of Noise
By Iger on 4/24/2009 4:49:46 AM , Rating: 2
Saw it on youtube just yesterday accidentally. It's still Crazy Frog :)

RE: Lack of Noise
By crimson117 on 4/24/2009 11:57:00 AM , Rating: 2
I first heard it delivered as a powerpoint presentation; someone has it posted here:


RE: Lack of Noise
By TomZ on 4/23/2009 12:22:52 PM , Rating: 4
I kind of wonder about the need for this. I'm not blind, but if I was, I don't think I would cross a road regardless of whether I could hear any cars or not.

Also, a blind person could be seriously injured by a biker, so you would think that if silent cars need some kind of safety mechanism, then bikes would, too.

Of course, all this assumes the driver of the car or bike is not paying attention at all.

RE: Lack of Noise
By MrBungle123 on 4/23/2009 12:30:23 PM , Rating: 5
Hooray nanny state!

RE: Lack of Noise
By GaryJohnson on 4/23/2009 1:21:20 PM , Rating: 2
a blind person could be seriously injured by a biker

Or joggers for that matter.

RE: Lack of Noise
By MrPeabody on 4/23/2009 1:31:34 PM , Rating: 5
Or bears.

RE: Lack of Noise
By bodar on 4/23/2009 2:46:41 PM , Rating: 3
Patch notes: "Blind people crossing the street should aggro every bears."

RE: Lack of Noise
By mondo1234 on 4/23/2009 1:31:43 PM , Rating: 2
"Officer, I only play my rap music that loud is so the blind can here me from 2 blocks away. Its a safety issue.."

Maybe this is why the vehicles on the Jetsons all make that purring sound (:P)

RE: Lack of Noise
By mondo1234 on 4/23/2009 1:35:14 PM , Rating: 5
There are two more parts to the bill:

1. All bicycle riders will put a playing card in their spokes

2. It also mandates the spraying of water out of your vehicle for the deaf and blind.

RE: Lack of Noise
By bespoke on 4/23/2009 3:03:50 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget non-horseless carriages - if the horse was traveling on soft ground, it might be nearly silent. We'll need some sort of audible alert system for horses, too!

RE: Lack of Noise
By Spuke on 4/23/2009 12:38:39 PM , Rating: 5
Most noise coming from cars nowadays is tire noise. And hybrids and electrics still make that noise.

RE: Lack of Noise
By stromgald30 on 4/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: Lack of Noise
By Spivonious on 4/23/2009 1:09:35 PM , Rating: 5
If the car is already stopped, then the blind person has no problem.

RE: Lack of Noise
By Spuke on 4/23/2009 1:28:03 PM , Rating: 2
If the car is already stopped, then the blind person has no problem.

RE: Lack of Noise
By stromgald30 on 4/23/2009 4:57:09 PM , Rating: 2
Hmm, I guess I should've been more clear. When it is idling or going at a very slow speed. Priuses cut off their gas engines at like 5 mph. Of course there's some pavement noise, but not much.

If someone was say, backing out of parking space, or coasting up to a stop sign in a residential neighborhood, a blind person could walk in the path of the car or walk into the car itself. You could say it's always the job of the driver to be aware, but that doesn't always happen.

Just last week, I was walking with co-workers to a restaurant for lunch and the guy in front almost got ran over by somebody backing out of a driveway. Mostly because he hadn't reached the street, wasn't considering pedestrians on the sidewalk, and was talking to the passenger in the car.

RE: Lack of Noise
By Jimbo1234 on 4/23/2009 7:40:54 PM , Rating: 3
At 5 MPH most engines are idling. Those are already so quiet that it doesn't make any difference if it's electric or gasoline powered.

This gives new meaning to "Loud pipes save lives."

RE: Lack of Noise
By FITCamaro on 4/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: Lack of Noise
By afkrotch on 4/23/2009 1:46:00 PM , Rating: 1
lol. Guess someone had to point out the obvious.

RE: Lack of Noise
By FITCamaro on 4/23/2009 2:02:12 PM , Rating: 2
I'm waiting for him to argue that the blind suffer from "deer in the headlights" syndrome.

RE: Lack of Noise
By monomer on 4/23/2009 3:55:25 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, a blind person could seriously stub their toes, or break a cane by walking into an idling vehicle. And don't forget about all those massively harmful magnetic rays that will give them cancer from standing too near a running electric car for extended periods without even knowing it.

RE: Lack of Noise
By slashbinslashbash on 4/23/2009 12:40:15 PM , Rating: 3
Meanwhile, Sens. Kerry and Specter are standing at the back of the news conference shaking their heads and mouthing silently "We're just kidding guys, there's no way we will pass this bill, just play along!"

RE: Lack of Noise
By AntiM on 4/23/2009 12:41:06 PM , Rating: 3
It's just a bill. It probably won't pass. Politicians have a way of introducing these types of bills to make themselves look good. Whether it passes or not, they can say they tried.

RE: Lack of Noise
By aegisofrime on 4/23/2009 12:45:25 PM , Rating: 5
How about instead of making cars noisier so that blind people can hear them (still doesn't completely prevent accidents, nor does it help the DEAF and blind), fund more research to cure and prevent blindness? Stem Cells anyone???

RE: Lack of Noise
By MrPeabody on 4/23/2009 1:34:48 PM , Rating: 5
Are there that many deaf and blind people regularly crossing the streets?

And here I thought they spent most of their time driving in front of me on my morning commute.

RE: Lack of Noise
By cpeter38 on 4/23/2009 6:39:43 PM , Rating: 2
Since I can't rate you up more

RE: Lack of Noise
By pugster on 4/23/2009 4:02:01 PM , Rating: 2
These car companies spends millions on R&D to make cars quieter. Now Toyota did it and now the government wants to do the opposite. What irony.

RE: Lack of Noise
By Jimbo1234 on 4/23/2009 7:42:21 PM , Rating: 2
No one ever accused the government of thinking, and they've never been guilty of it.

RE: Lack of Noise
By Motoman on 4/25/2009 5:29:24 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed. Democracy is a process by which the people are given no better a government than they deserve.

RE: Lack of Noise
By Sazar on 4/23/2009 5:18:07 PM , Rating: 2
I have a great way of not killing blind pedestrians crossing the street.

The drivers should use their EYES and USE THE BLOODY BRAKES.

Blind people crossing roads are far more responsible than the sighted as they wait for audible cues or seeing-eye dogs to cross. If a guy in a car wants to commit man-slaughter (person-slaughter since we're being so PC?) that's their perogative but last I heard, Hybrid's have BRAKES.

If the driver is not skilled enough to drive a vehicle and give way to a pedestrian in a right-of-way situation or follow signs to stop at crossings, there is nothing any new laws will change.

RE: Lack of Noise
By SilthDraeth on 4/23/2009 7:10:21 PM , Rating: 2
Actually a lot of the new cars, I can't even hear them running anyways, with exception of large trucks, etc. What I hear the most is tire noise on the road.

For instance, my 93 Toyota Corolla, and my 2005 make almost no noise when idleing and driving. Wind Noise, and Tire Noise is the most significant noise they make. Unless accelerating.

RE: Lack of Noise
By BailoutBenny on 4/23/2009 8:05:57 PM , Rating: 2
At which point your corolla yells WHOOOOPEEEEE! as it speeds off.

RE: Lack of Noise
By callmeroy on 4/24/2009 9:03:17 AM , Rating: 1
pfft...."ghastly internal combustion engine"......

Unless you are one of those neo-hippy tree hugging sons of bitches who buy into the global warming is caused by and can be stopped by US type of folks......

As far as vehicles go --- nothing sounds better than a well tuned ICE!!!!!

Look out!
By HostileEffect on 4/23/2009 12:24:38 PM , Rating: 4
I propose that the vehicle driver be at attention and watching for anyone running out into the street. What is a blind person doing traveling the street alone?

Maybe radio broadcast from hybrid cars could be picked up by a hearing aid like device.

RE: Look out!
By afkrotch on 4/23/2009 12:30:44 PM , Rating: 4
The US doesn't make size differences in money denominations, they don't make audible crosswalks, and they don't make indents/differences in sidewalks for the blind. Why is a hybrid/electric any different?

Just make it a double score for hitting a blind person. Oh wait...I mean make it a double fine.

RE: Look out!
By metasin on 4/23/2009 1:11:18 PM , Rating: 2
Years ago the city I live in was replacing the corners of the sidewalks (at the intersection) with a ramp instead of a high curb. This seemed great for those relegated to wheelchairs etc. However, this was a disaster for those who were visually impaired as they now had no mechanism to know they were about to enter the street.

I guess you can never make everything perfectly safe or 100% accommodating for everyone.

RE: Look out!
By FITCamaro on 4/23/2009 1:16:27 PM , Rating: 5
But you can pass laws and restrict things until everyone suffers equally as much.

RE: Look out!
By Sazar on 4/23/2009 5:21:59 PM , Rating: 2
You are obviously discriminating against the handicapped.

You are a handicapist.

Besides, everyone in this world SHOULD cater to those who have handicapped. I propose we introduce a bill to blind and deafen everyone so that all are treated equally. Who's with me?


RE: Look out!
By gmyx on 4/23/2009 1:32:20 PM , Rating: 3
Design standards (at least here in Canada) include `bumps` in the ramp so the cane picks them up. They usually angle in the direction of the crosswalk.

I know for a fact that places like the CNIB (like AFB/NFB for Canada) trains the people who are blind to listen before crossing.

The problem does not lie with the fact that cars make little noise but the fact that audible crosswalks are not legally required. I know in Ottawa (Canada) they only install them after someone complains about the intersection.

Even then, a few weeks ago a person who is blind was crossing a street in which he had the right to cross got hit and killed by a school bus. It all comes down to the driver paying attention - which may seem at odds with Corporate America designing more and more features into cars that cause / allow more distraction then ever before.

RE: Look out!
By afkrotch on 4/23/2009 1:56:24 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is it's impossible to accommodate everyone everywhere. What happens in areas with no sidewalk? Areas where the sidewalk is at the same level as the road? A sidewalk made out of bricks, so a lot of the bricks pop up and create bumps?

For this case, everything should fall on the drivers. I've never heard of blind ppl running wildly into the road

I'm more inclined to put some kind of audible device on the blind person, then each car has some kind of transmitter to cause the device to beep when coming closer to the device. The closer the car comes, the more frequent and faster the beeps occur. You can even make the device rumble for the deaf.

At least then the only noise around would be coming blind ppl's devices. Instead of causing noise pollution everywhere else the blind ppl aren't.

RE: Look out!
By gmyx on 4/23/2009 2:04:17 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, especially since they already have speaking GPS products on the market that work very well.

RE: Look out!
By monomer on 4/23/2009 3:58:45 PM , Rating: 2
All blind people should be required to wear four-way flashers at all times while traveling outdoors.

RE: Look out!
By Parhel on 4/23/2009 5:46:07 PM , Rating: 2
You can even make the device rumble for the deaf.

You'd have to run that by Immersion Corporation first. Before them, the world was without rumbling, and nothing can rumble without their permission.

RE: Look out!
By Jimbo1234 on 4/23/2009 7:45:22 PM , Rating: 3
Umm, they do make audible crosswalks. When a walk sign illuminates, it beeps as well. If it doesn't beep, you can hear a tick-tock noise.

RE: Look out!
By afkrotch on 4/24/2009 2:13:34 PM , Rating: 2
I'm living in Germany atm. The crosswalk outside my apt makes the stupid tick tock noise. A block away, that crosswalk makes a beep sound. Really weird that they have two or possibly more different methods of an audible crosswalk in a single city.

Of course, side differences in cash denominations. No differentiations in the sidewalk for the blind though. Guess that would be too costly.

Blind ppl, are there enough to worry?
By afkrotch on 4/23/2009 12:26:28 PM , Rating: 5
If they think it's a big enough concern to require electric cars to emit a louder noise, then why haven't they changed our paper money to different sizes to allow the blind to know what they are handing to the cashier?

By Redwin on 4/23/2009 12:37:47 PM , Rating: 2
So true. This comment winz the internetz, IMO.

By Smartless on 4/23/2009 2:44:32 PM , Rating: 2
Pass the buck literally.

Well maybe the solution is put a baseball card in the spokes.

RE: Blind ppl, are there enough to worry?
By matt0401 on 4/23/2009 3:17:28 PM , Rating: 2
In Canada we have brail on our paper money. And our one and two dollar coins are significantly larger and heavier than the other coins to tell them apart from them, and have different texture so you can tell them apart from each other.

By arbindc on 4/23/2009 5:09:43 PM , Rating: 2
Excellent solution to an annoying problem.

RE: Blind ppl, are there enough to worry?
By gmyx on 4/23/2009 7:33:45 PM , Rating: 2
Technically, it's not braille. It's just groups of raised dots based of braille, they don't actually say 20 or 10 or 5. 1 group of 6 = 5, 2 groups = 10, 3 groups = 20, 4 = 50. Oddly, the 100 has groups spaced wider apart.

I know the individual responsible for the dots. His goal was to make it so that even someone how does not know braille can still tell them apart by the simple groupings.

Did you know that less then 10% of the blind population can read braille? When learning braille, you need to sensitize your fingers to read it. Hence, groupings: You only need to count the groups and not what they mean needing less sensitivity.

Fro more information:

Of note as well, the Euro uses different sizes for this reason as well.

RE: Blind ppl, are there enough to worry?
By matt0401 on 4/23/2009 8:50:27 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, thanks for the correction. I meant to say a system similar to braille. I think it's a better idea than different sized bills. Braille-like dots are probably an easier-to-implement manufacturing technique than to make every bill a different size, and it's probably more difficult to tell what bill it is unless you can more than one to compare. Each bill being a different size is relative, so you would need to either really be familiar with all the bills or have another to compare.

What I really like is Australia's paper money. It isn't. :P They use a laminated polymer money. I remember watching an episode of How It's Made where they looked at polymer money, and I found it cool how you could basically go swimming and not have to worry about forgetting your money in your pocket, it'd still be completely fine when you got out. Why other countries don't have this I have no idea!

RE: Blind ppl, are there enough to worry?
By croc on 4/23/2009 10:17:34 PM , Rating: 2
I believe AUS is marketing their money process to several other nations at the moment. The KIWIs may license the tech soon, and the Thais have been very interested.

The variable size of the bills and coinage is trivial to cater for, and helps the blind not to get swindled when purchasing goods. But of course, no moral 'merican would take advantage of a blind person proferring a $50 dollar bill for a $5 dollar purchase, would they?

Most crosswalks in AUS and NZ are equipped with what I call 'clackers' that make noise when the 'walk' sign is on.Now if AUS could just get private companies to put in handicapped ramps...

By matt0401 on 4/23/2009 11:14:44 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, ironically here in Canada those ramps are required by law, even for private businesses. :P I think the governments need to collaborate a bit so everyone benefits!

By afkrotch on 4/24/2009 2:26:28 PM , Rating: 2
The size differences are huge, so it's pretty easy to tell. Easier than trying to feel little braille-like dots.

Anyways, all money you don't have to worry about going swimming with it in your pocket. It's just that polymer lasts longer. The US government is tested it, but I doubt it'll go though. Americans don't want plastic money.

Plastic is associated with cheap. Plastic money feels slippery. Plastic money cost more, but does last like 4 times as long.

I think I'd rather have coin money before I'd have plastic money. Thailand went plastic, only to return to paper.

RE: Blind ppl, are there enough to worry?
By arbindc on 4/23/09, Rating: 0
By Parhel on 4/23/2009 11:52:57 PM , Rating: 2
Not being able to use money is hardly a matter of "convenience." Think for a second how limited you would be. I would say just as limited as not being able to cross the street.

By moiaujapon on 4/23/2009 1:13:05 PM , Rating: 4
I thought this was ridiculous too, until I actually gained some firsthand experience with the issue.

Here in Tokyo we actually do walk about the city, and the first time that I saw a completely silent car (electric) drive around the corner and pass by me, it was an eerie moment, like a dream sequence in a movie with no sound. I felt like things were in slow motion for a moment while my brain did a second take and processed what was happening. Suddenly the reality of just how much we do rely on the sound of cars hit home.

A car making sound when it doesn't need to seems absurd. I used to say "Hey, survival of the fittest." But sincerely, once you have a couple of silent cars suddenly catch your attention in your peripheral vision when you hadn't yet actually heard it approaching, the danger will hit home. I'm not sure about the solution, but doing research on the issue (the point of this legislation) seems like a pretty reasonable step.

RE: Actually
By adiposity on 4/23/2009 1:19:41 PM , Rating: 2
Well, according to this, it's not just blind people who are in danger. So maybe they should stop introducing legislation to save blind people and introduce legislation to make cars safer for pedestrians. Like a system that forces cars to stop before they hit pedestrians.


RE: Actually
By MrPeabody on 4/23/2009 1:30:23 PM , Rating: 3
Like a system that forces cars to stop before they hit pedestrians.

Otherwise known as "Brakes".

RE: Actually
By adiposity on 4/23/2009 2:19:51 PM , Rating: 2

Brakes are optional, therefore they do not "force" the car to do anything.

Brakes + good driver, yes. But I was suggesting a system that doesn't require a good driver.


RE: Actually
By afkrotch on 4/23/2009 3:01:43 PM , Rating: 2
Like a subway?

RE: Actually
By AndreasM on 4/23/2009 8:09:54 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Actually
By afkrotch on 4/23/2009 1:44:05 PM , Rating: 2
I use to live in Tokyo too and not once have I been on a sidewalk with no traffic, cept at night in a residential area, but no sidewalk.

Besides the driver should be paying attention while they drive anyways. What is a blind person going to do if the driver with a noisy car is not paying attention? Jump out of the way? Hell even possible that when they jump, they actually jump into traffic.

I know some ppl also bring up things like bicyclists, but I see them wearing headphones all the time. Even if the car made noise, they don't hear it.

I'd rather put out legislation that a electric/hybrid must come equipped with a car stereo, 1000 watt amp, and two 20s in the trunk. Also the car stereo cannot be adjusted below 10% of the sound it's capable of producing or cannot be turned off. Viola! Solved.

RE: Actually
By SocrPlyr on 4/23/2009 2:00:53 PM , Rating: 2
so now you want to turn everyone into the hearing impaired... :)

RE: Actually
By afkrotch on 4/23/2009 2:17:13 PM , Rating: 2
Yep. Then we won't care about whether there's noise or not. We can't hear it.

RE: Actually
By Parhel on 4/23/2009 5:36:47 PM , Rating: 2
. . . it was an eerie moment, like a dream sequence in a movie with no sound. I felt like things were in slow motion for a moment while my brain did a second take and processed what was happening . . .

That was probably Tetsuo riding by on his motorcycle.

Uploadable sounds?
By vapore0n on 4/23/2009 12:34:28 PM , Rating: 2
I vote for "a can in the bike spokes" sound.

RE: Uploadable sounds?
By nct on 4/23/2009 1:01:07 PM , Rating: 5
I want mine to sound like the Jetsons' flying car!

RE: Uploadable sounds?
By FITCamaro on 4/23/2009 1:17:07 PM , Rating: 1
I vote for the sound of squealing brakes.

RE: Uploadable sounds?
By Spuke on 4/23/2009 1:30:25 PM , Rating: 2
I vote for the fingernail on chalkboard sound.

RE: Uploadable sounds?
By Souka on 4/23/2009 1:57:57 PM , Rating: 1
just cut grooves in all the pavement like they did for that "singing highway" honda ad...

RE: Uploadable sounds?
By TomZ on 4/23/2009 2:06:18 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Uploadable sounds?
By StevoLincolnite on 4/23/2009 1:38:49 PM , Rating: 3
I vote for an 80 pound gorilla taking laxatives sound.

RE: Uploadable sounds?
By superflex on 4/23/2009 4:16:40 PM , Rating: 2
I vote for the sound of a douche bag being drug behind the vehicle.

RE: Uploadable sounds?
By FITCamaro on 4/24/2009 6:53:18 AM , Rating: 2
Then shouldn't the car just be quiet so it can hit a blind person? He/she will get dragged behind the car after it runs them over. If necessary we can facilitate this by putting a large metal hook under the car to hook into his/her body somewhere.

RE: Uploadable sounds?
By Parhel on 4/23/2009 5:31:58 PM , Rating: 2
Hemp tires with built in noisemakers. Plus speakers on the roof playing the soundtrack to Hair.

I am my brother's keeper
By arbindc on 4/23/2009 2:31:28 PM , Rating: 3
The level of vitriol being spewed in these comments is disappointing. I am a sighted and hearing person today. I don't know what the future holds.

Why shouldn't we require car manufacturers to make minor adjustments to the new, virtually soundless vehicles in order to protect the safety and promote the independence of those who are visually or auditorily impaired? Doesn't our nation's interest in the safety and independence of our visually and auditorily impaired citizens and visitors outweigh the slight discomfort to the sighted and hearing of listening to a noise when a vehicle passes?

In response to many of the commentators, it is true that visually or auditorily impaired individuals could be hit by bicycles or attacked by bears or even rabid hedgehogs, but what does that have to do with the discussion at issue? Maybe we can't achieve solutions to all issues that could impact the visually or auditorily impaired individual. Or maybe we can look for solutions to those threats as well.

Finally, I will address the concept of "noise pollution." Today's cars make noise. The cars of the future might not. I don't believe any suggestion has been made that the level of artificial noise required must reach the level of noise produced by automobiles today. Accordingly, we ought to support legislation that aims to assist members of our society to live safely and independently and request that the level of sound be only as loud as needed to provide the appropriate warnings.

Those who would deny the visually and auditorily impaired the ability to walk freely among us should burn fierily with shame. One day you may find yourself in need of the accommodations you mock today. I hope there are enough of us today willing to look out for the future you.

RE: I am my brother's keeper
By ussfletcher on 4/23/2009 2:36:48 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, but the burden of a small population should not be placed on that of a larger population. I suggest instead that blind people must wear large sound producing buzzers, to warn hybrid owners of their location.

RE: I am my brother's keeper
By 91TTZ on 4/23/2009 3:00:48 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't our nation's interest in the safety and independence of our visually and auditorily impaired citizens and visitors outweigh the slight discomfort to the sighted and hearing of listening to a noise when a vehicle passes?


For one, hybrids aren't that much quieter than other new cars. They're all pretty quiet. Secondly, you don't inconvenience the vast majority of the population in order to give a convenience for a tiny fragment of the population. Like I already said, hybrids aren't much quieter than other new cars. This isn't a matter of a blind person being able to hear a loud muscle car or not hear a silent hybrid.

RE: I am my brother's keeper
By afkrotch on 4/23/2009 3:25:53 PM , Rating: 2
The hell does the auditorily impaired have anything to do with the conversation? They can't hear, so why do they care that cars make noise or not?

Also who is denying anyone the ability to walk freely among us? They just have something new to be careful of. Quieter cars. It's more prudent that they take steps to alert that they are there, instead of every single hybrid/electric doing it.

Do we force pedestrians to wear reflective belts in the hours of darkness? I mean, we need to see them better when we go driving at night. But no, we don't. Instead I see ppl in dark clothing walking down unlit roads all the time.

It's what? .003% of Americans are blind? I have a higher chance of driving 1 mile down a road, blind folded and hitting a child, then I do a blind person. Yet children don't wear audible devices to warn drivers.

RE: I am my brother's keeper
By monomer on 4/23/2009 4:27:36 PM , Rating: 2
The main problem with the entire argument is that electric and hybrid cars are not silent (gasp!).

When they are moving, the engine and tires still make noise. The only time they are quiet is when they are idling, and proposing legislation to protect blind people from walking into stationary objects is a little overkill.

RE: I am my brother's keeper
By matt0401 on 4/23/2009 8:53:40 PM , Rating: 2
I ran out of votes so I'm manually voting you up one.

RE: I am my brother's keeper
By arbindc on 4/23/2009 5:03:54 PM , Rating: 1
The legislation merely studies the issue -- it doesn't reach any hard and fast conclusions.

Even if the study concludes that noiseless or very quiet vehicles do pose a danger to some part of our population, the accommodation of adding sound to a vehicle, which the rest of us are already used to hearing, is reasonable and far from a "burden" to "everyone else."

Auditorily impaired implies a wide range of hearing deficiencies, not solely deafness, i.e., elderly people with hearing aids.

Asking a visually impaired person to be more careful of silent traffic is ridiculous. What would you ask them to do? Perhaps jump up and down at the corner to make themselves more visible? Perhaps wear signs that ask for sighted assistance to cross? Otherwise, when will they know it is clear for them to pass? Doesn't this inhibit their ability to move freely among us?

We already expect drivers to slow down and stop for pedestrians. Sometimes they don't. Whether we adorn the impaired with neon paint or have them do jumping jacks on the sidewalk, we are still expecting the driver to take full responsibility.

If cars are equipped with some artificial sound (which does not have to be the rumble of a muscle car or monster truck), those with said impairments can take some responsibility for their own safety and still move freely in our society.

RE: I am my brother's keeper
By BailoutBenny on 4/23/2009 8:12:00 PM , Rating: 2
So all cars should have strobe lights so deaf people can see them. All cars should sound like forks on a chalkboard so the blind can hear them.

Seriously though, I think inconveniencing the vast majority of people for the convenience of a few is ridiculous. What happened to individual responsibility? If you are blind/deaf/whatever, it is up to YOU to make sure you take appropriate steps since you know you are disadvantaged. Get someone to walk with you, get a seeing eye dog or get someone to go out for you but it is your responsibility. Don't force me to pay higher taxes to subsidize GM or Chrysler or anyone else to create this technology. Don't force me to pay higher prices on a car because car companies have to cover the added costs of complying with this regulation and the R&D also needed.

RE: I am my brother's keeper
By 91TTZ on 4/24/2009 10:45:11 AM , Rating: 2
Asking a visually impaired person to be more careful of silent traffic is ridiculous. What would you ask them to do? Perhaps jump up and down at the corner to make themselves more visible? Perhaps wear signs that ask for sighted assistance to cross? Otherwise, when will they know it is clear for them to pass? Doesn't this inhibit their ability to move freely among us?


It's already been pointed out to you that electric cars aren't silent when moving. This is a non-issue.

good idea
By invidious on 4/23/2009 12:40:55 PM , Rating: 2
This isnt just about blind people, its also about letting otherwise cautious pedestrians be aware of bad/distracted drivers. Some idiot in a hybrid SUV almost backed up into me as I was walking in a parking lot the other day, I had no idea his car was even on.

If your outside in the city the ambient noise complete drowns out the wimpy gas engines these things use. What if your on a bicycle and one of these is coming up behind you, you would have no idea until it passed or hit you.

RE: good idea
By TomZ on 4/23/2009 12:46:20 PM , Rating: 2
What if your on a bicycle and one of these is coming up behind you, you would have no idea until it passed or hit you.
If you're concerned about safety while riding a bike, you would be using a mirror on your bike anyway. Hearing is not an adequate cue for safety on a bike, IMO.

RE: good idea
By FITCamaro on 4/23/2009 1:19:29 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe you should try looking at his tail lights?

And if you're on a bike perhaps you should practice good safety and look over your shoulder before you move into the street.

RE: good idea
By afkrotch on 4/23/2009 2:04:18 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently cautious pedestrian means "I wasn't paying any attention to the other cues that vehicles put off when reversing."

What annoys me is noise. Nothing more annoying than a car with a backup noise. Some Euro countries require it and so my car has the stupid "beep beep beep" noise when I reverse. Like my squealing tires, large smoke cloud, or burning rubber smell isn't enough.

RE: good idea
By Jimbo1234 on 4/23/2009 7:51:42 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, what's even more annoying is the Prius that has the noise only inside the car! As if the driver didn't know they were backing up.

More insanity more noise pollution
By holymaniac on 4/23/2009 1:01:16 PM , Rating: 2
This is America at it's insane best! Let's make more noise!!!! Why not require blind people to wear bright orange clothes? Let's just stop driving - then everyone will be SAFE!!!! These people who make these laws are nuts and should not be in positions of authority.
More noise!! YEAH!

By arbindc on 4/23/2009 2:41:21 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps we ought to abandon driving altogether -- it would serve the dual purpose of reducing "noise" pollution as well as actual pollution.

By BAFrayd on 4/24/2009 3:26:22 AM , Rating: 2
These people who make these laws are nuts and should not be in positions of authority.

And just think, John Kerry was the Democrat's nomination for President.

Most newer cars are pretty quiet anyway.
By 91TTZ on 4/23/2009 12:12:24 PM , Rating: 2
Most new cars are damn near silent anyway when traveling at slow speeds. This is nothing more than an advocacy group trying to throw its weight around.

By PlasmaBomb on 4/23/2009 12:25:57 PM , Rating: 2

Ringtones 2.0?
By MrPeabody on 4/23/2009 12:44:00 PM , Rating: 2
For all you folks out there who just looooove obnoxious ringtones, just wait until they come out with "revtones".

If revtones ever come to be, mine will be Holst's The Planets (Op. 32), specifically the first movement, "Mars, the Bringer of War". Actually, now that I think about it, I kind of want to do that anyway.

RE: Ringtones 2.0?
By Helbore on 4/23/2009 2:02:55 PM , Rating: 2
Fortunately, you can.

Its called an in-car CD player!

By nafhan on 4/23/2009 1:08:29 PM , Rating: 2
I just realized that blind people probably have a difficult time playing tennis because the ball doesn't make much noise as it's flying across the court. Someone needs to pass a law to equip all tennis balls with buzzers so blind people can tell where they are and how fast they are going by the doppler shift...
Seriously, I'm all for helping the physically handicapped, but sometimes lawmakers can go a little overboard. I can just imagine future roads filled with noisy hybrid vehicles.

RE: Discrimination!
By arbindc on 4/23/2009 5:44:06 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure I believe that you are "all for helping the physically handicapped." The ability to play tennis is a convenience; the inability to know when to cross the street is a safety issue.

But someone should take your idea and run with it. I'm sure the visually impaired would have a lot of fun playing tennis if they could hear the ball whizzing around them! Sure it's a niche market, but it would help not just the visually impaired but anyone who wants to play tennis at night.

bipartisan?? no
By Moishe on 4/23/2009 2:09:58 PM , Rating: 2
Kerry and Specter together != bipartisan... Hate to break it to ya.

RE: bipartisan?? no
By TomZ on 4/23/2009 2:26:07 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, those guys are opposite sides of the same fanny!

This is just to commission a study.
By VooDooAddict on 4/23/2009 2:34:01 PM , Rating: 2
This isn't to force sudo-engine noise into hybrids/plug-ins.

This is just to study the impact such silent cars have on blind citizens and investigate ways to improve the situation.

By MrPeabody on 4/23/2009 3:26:22 PM , Rating: 2
This is just to study the impact such silent cars have on blind citizens [. . .]

For, um, lack of a better phrase.

Here is an idea
By KeithP on 4/23/2009 3:17:01 PM , Rating: 2
Instead of making the cars louder, why not require blind people where helmets with flashing lights on top? Then everyone notices them and can take appropriate actions as required.


RE: Here is an idea
By FITCamaro on 4/24/2009 6:54:34 AM , Rating: 2
Brilliant! And the blind don't have to care how stupid they look because they're blind.

A sensible solution
By estarkey7 on 4/23/2009 1:20:01 PM , Rating: 1
If notification is indeed necessary, I would like to see hybrids install a wireless transmitter and blind people purchase receivers that notify them of the vehicle. This will allow those of us who or not blind, to enjoy freedom from noise pollution, while still addressing the safety issue.

RE: A sensible solution
By Ben on 4/24/2009 12:52:50 AM , Rating: 2

Makes much more sense to me.

Minority vs Majority
By an0dize on 4/23/2009 12:41:38 PM , Rating: 2
While I'm sure America has a large population of blind people wandering about; I'm not sure why motorists (a vastly larger population) should have to move to accommodate the blind. Why don't we pass a bill requiring blind people to carry some sort of laser motion detector or some other device that will detect cars? It's certainly feasible, and saves the entire population from having to suffer for the handicap of a few.

By coolkev99 on 4/23/2009 1:54:27 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry, this is retarded. Sometimes life isn't always fair. What ever happened to the old fashoned way of just asking or helping somone cross a street.

Bubb Rubb
By RetardicalSam on 4/23/2009 2:40:20 PM , Rating: 2
I can't believe there hasn't been a Bubb Rubb reference yet. Woo woo!

Make all cars quiet!
By Anonymous Freak on 4/23/2009 4:20:08 PM , Rating: 2
Instead of adding noise to quiet cars so you can hear them above the general din of traffic; how about we just mandate that all OTHER cars get quiet, so that the base level of noise drops sufficiently to hear the quiet ones?

I live in a neighborhood with many dead ends, and quite a few hybrid cars. I can hear them a block away, simply because they are usually the only cars on the road. In fact, they make a very distinctive 'electric motor' sound, that, if anything, DRAWS my attention. Whereas hearing my wife come home in her Subaru, I am less likely to notice, because the car's engine is very quiet already, and it's not distinctive.

I'm sorry, but "the blind" don't need to be protected from "silent" cars, they just need to get used to the *DIFFERENT* sound that electric-motor vehicles make.

This "bill" is so sexist!
By phazers on 4/23/2009 4:23:23 PM , Rating: 2
Why can't Congress give equal time to women, and call half their proposed legislation "Margarets" or something :D

By Lorraine on 4/23/2009 5:50:11 PM , Rating: 2
Trucks beep when they back up--Good thing. I've heard cars about to back up from a parking space in a parking lot many times before I walked behind them. Totally silent cars would be totally deadly and I would rather not be the first statistic! Zoom, zoom, indeed.

Lack of Noise
By Lorraine on 4/23/2009 6:05:58 PM , Rating: 2
I've read research on adding "noise" to hybrid cars. Turns out all tests with pedestrians and drivers show that the normal noises associated with the internal combustion engine are the most efficient for pedestrians and drivers to have a good reaction time to danger from moving cars. There is a range of loudness that is optimum--no need for sounds as loud as bad mufflers or Harleys. The add-on sound effects are not going to be NOISE POLLUTION, just loud enough that people have enough time to hear and react before they get run over.

There is also no need for the pollution that goes with the old engines, just the "sound" without the carcinogenics.

Don't Hybrid Cars...
By mmatis on 4/23/2009 6:06:56 PM , Rating: 2
already have horns???

Treatise of Kerry-Specter
By IcePickFreak on 4/23/2009 7:40:53 PM , Rating: 2
From this day henceforth, this 23rd day of April in the 2009th year of our l<censored>d, let all hybrid automobiles be known as "silent but deadlys"

...or SBD's since the government is always a sucker for acronyms.

Sound idea
By bildan on 4/23/2009 9:50:28 PM , Rating: 2
How about hooking a VERY loud noisemaker to the brake light circuit that shrieks like high speed locked brakes.

Might be useful in other situations.

By Zingam on 4/24/2009 1:10:55 AM , Rating: 2
Guys, your government spends trillions on R&D to make man slaughter smarter and more efficient on things like "nano-suits", stealth bombers, rocket defense systems, early detection and warning systems and all the crap but how much money they've put to make a system that could make blind people see in some way?
Maybe its possible to make a device that will detect moving cars and object and warn the blind people that making artificial noise as most of you are joking about?

Stalin said: "If there is a man, there is a problem. If there is no man, there is no problem." So he solved the problem by killing the man.
Nothing has changed since his time, hmm?

Blind people can't hear?!
By Captain828 on 4/24/2009 3:36:34 AM , Rating: 2
What the hell is wrong with this title?!

Blind people can't see !
They hear a lot better than a normal person, so it's actually the normal person that would have hearing problems with these cars..

The problem according to some Senators is that many of the new electric and hybrid vehicles produce little or no noise making them hazardous to the blind and visually impaired pedestrian.

What about the hearing impaired pedestrians?
Oh, I know! Let's make a bill so that manufacturers will have to add an always-on searchlight on top of the vehicles!

By AlmostExAMD on 4/24/2009 3:57:50 AM , Rating: 2
What a waste of time,And among the most growing forms of stress in modern times is infact noise pollution,This is just gonna boost the numbers up.
No offence to blind people but they are a minority group,Fund research to help them see again but leave the damn cars quiet please.
I agree,Tire noise is more than adequate.

By JoeyFiasco on 4/24/2009 4:51:10 AM , Rating: 2
isn't this why we have pedestrian crosswalks? only change i really see needed is to make sure that cross walks are equipped with a sonic signal so people know when the light (for cars) is red.

By depravedone on 4/24/2009 9:33:25 AM , Rating: 2
So we're passing laws for cars that don't even exist yet, for a problem that hasn't actually been proven. How many deaf people are there crossing the road to justify the extra cost on an already overpriced car?

Whistles make the car go...
By ovad2 on 4/24/2009 10:04:36 AM , Rating: 2
Woooooooooooo wooooooo

Really?! Anyone...anyone?

Motion Sensing Horn
By SpaceJumper on 4/24/2009 3:29:32 PM , Rating: 2
The law should mandate all vehicles with motion sensing horn that will automatically horn if motion is detected in front of the vehicle.
The horn would warn blind people, cats, slow drivers, old people, kool pedestrians, iPod addicts, wild animals, drunks, etc...
In traffic jams, you can blame on the vehicle for the noise.
It's priceless!!

By blueboy09 on 4/26/2009 3:38:28 AM , Rating: 2
Well, maybe they (blind people) should have motion-activated vibrators to alert them when these hybrids do come along the road. Just a thought. :) - BLUEBOY

let them wear a rfid
By assemblage on 4/28/2009 10:27:16 AM , Rating: 2
Have the blind people wear a rfid. Equip the cars with a rfid sensor. When the car reads a rfid for a blind person, it'll start beeping like a big truck backing up.

He drives one?
By ZachDontScare on 4/23/2009 2:38:07 PM , Rating: 1
Senator John Kerry said, "I'm a major proponent of hybrid vehicles -- I own one, I drive one ..."

Yeah, sure. As if Mr. Theresa Heinz drives himself anywhere. Ok, perhaps from the carriage house to the pool house on one of his European-style estates.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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