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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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RE: Lack of Noise
By stromgald30 on 4/23/2009 1:06:50 PM , Rating: -1
Um, maybe when you're driving yes. But when the car is idling at a stop sign or stop light (i.e. where a blind person is likely to be crossing the road), then the hybrids are almost completely silent.

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.

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