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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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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.

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