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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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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.

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