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Toyota Prius -- silent killer?
Silence is golden... or so they say

As auto manufacturers look for ways to improve the fuel efficiency of their vehicles, alternatives to relying solely on gasoline engines are being adopted. A number of companies, led by Toyota, are looking to gasoline-electric hybrids to boost efficiency in the U.S. Others are looking towards diesel engines, all-electric vehicles and fuel cells.

Gasoline-electric vehicles have been criticized greatly based on a number of factors. Some have argued that the fuel economy gains aren't worth the price premium, the batteries used in the vehicles will end up in landfills when their useful life is over and that diesels make for a more cost efficient and fuel efficient alternative.

One other negative has been leveled against hybrids in the past and that is in regards to their near-silent operation in city driving. Since most hybrids turn off their gasoline engine during low-speed city driving and rely on electric motors for propulsion, the most noise that many people may hear from the vehicles are a slight electric whine and a hint of tire noise.

Blind pedestrians have taken this issue to heart and are going after hybrids as they feel the silent vehicles pose a serious safety threat. The plight of blind pedestrians against hybrids has been detailed on DailyTech before, but the U.S. National Federation of the Blind (NFoB) is putting the issue back to the forefront.

"I'm used to being able to get sound cues from my environment and negotiate accordingly," said Deborah Kent Stein, chairwoman for the NFoB’s Committee on Automotive and Pedestrian Safety. "I hadn't imagined there was anything I really wouldn't be able to hear. We did a test, and I discovered, to my great dismay, that I couldn't hear it."

"People were making comments like, 'When are they going to start the test?' And it would turn out that the vehicle had already done two or three laps around the parking lot," Stein continued.

Since our last report, the NFoB has worked with the Association of International Auto Manufacturers (AIAM) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) to look into the possibility of forcing automobiles to emit recognizable sound at all time. The AIAM is even looking into "the possibility of setting a minimum noise level standard for hybrid vehicles," according to safety director Mike Camissa.

However, what may be good for the blind is likely a turn-off to hybrid owners. One of the advantages to having a hybrid in city traffic is the relative quietness afforded by all-electric propulsion.

Representatives for NoiseOFF, a group dedicated to reducing noise pollution, are also less than amused about the proposal. "To further expose millions of people to excessive noise pollution by making vehicles artificially loud is neither logical nor practical nor in the public interest," said NoiseOff founder Richard Tur.

Likewise, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have expressed little interest in the idea.

1.3 million people in the United States (out of a total population of 303,036,973 people) are legally blind.

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By JasonMick on 10/3/2007 2:53:47 PM , Rating: 5
I know this remark will likely get me lambasted by PC types but...

Doesn't it seem rather foolish for blind pedestrians to be crossing the street "based on auditory cues" in the first place? I mean it seems like if they are not with a friend or a seeing eye dog they probably should be not wandering across streets.

I know this seems unfair, but it is just common sense. Life deals you the cards, you gotta work with them, lemons know the sayings.

Besides its a slippery slope argument. If you say hybrids aren't loud enough, before long you'd be saying V4s are loud enough and you could argue every car needed a big V6 or V8 engine which would be ridiculous

Anyways this movement seems like a whole bunch of hot air to me.

By retrospooty on 10/3/2007 2:59:52 PM , Rating: 3
I totally agree. We cant stop progress because some people are blind and want to walk in the street. If you are not in a "blind friendly" intersection (they have audible crosswalk signals), and have no dog, you shouldnt be in the street. It sucks that your blind, I really sympathize with your plight, but stay off the streets man, there are quiet cars out there.

By Xerstead on 10/3/2007 3:12:37 PM , Rating: 3
These cars still have Horns right?
There are also many other quiet road users cyclists, trams, motorised wheel-chairs etc..

By ninjit on 10/3/2007 6:00:48 PM , Rating: 3
I was just about to comment about cyclists till I saw you mentioned it.

can you imagine riding your bike down an empty road, and have some blind person step-out right in front of you because they didn't hear any traffic?

I'm all for accessiblity, but instead of going after hybrid cars to be "louder", they should push for more audible cross-walks - I had always thought there already was a law about this, but I'm constantly surprised by the number of lighted crosswalks I come across that aren't audible.

Though on this subject, I've always wondered how a blind-person knows which path is the open one at a corner when they hear the sound?

By Scrogneugneu on 10/3/2007 10:10:53 PM , Rating: 2
Trial and error.

By dever on 10/5/2007 2:35:58 PM , Rating: 2
I should not be laughing. Shame on me.

By Calin on 10/4/2007 2:28:51 AM , Rating: 2
Usually all of them are open when the sound signals are active. It's less efficient in a straight cross intersection (you only need 4 times for cars and pedestrians, sound signals make it a 5 times)

By mathew7 on 10/4/2007 3:04:37 AM , Rating: 2
If a cyclist hit a person it will not kill them, although both will be injured. But a car at the same speed can kill the (blind) pedestrian, because it has much more energy (mass).

By darkpaw on 10/4/2007 8:34:16 AM , Rating: 2
A cyclist can definately kill someone they hit, all it requires is a hit to the head on the way down. It definately happens now and again.

Most cyclists in DC pay zero attention to signals, signs, or any other driving law they are supposed to follow. I'm sure they are a much bigger danger to the blind.

By TheGreek on 10/4/2007 1:29:49 PM , Rating: 2
If a cyclist hit a person it will not kill them,

How many blindfolded people would be able to hear a Honda Goldwing coming down the road?

By afkrotch on 10/4/2007 10:17:52 PM , Rating: 2
They are talking about a bicycle, not a motorcycle.

By TheGreek on 10/5/2007 11:44:41 AM , Rating: 2
Regardless of vehicle, the issue is being too quiet.

By dude on 10/4/2007 11:20:01 PM , Rating: 2
Forget the blind for a minute here...

I live in Philly, and we have alot of "blind" people that cross the street here. Most cross without looking at the direction of oncoming traffic. Quite a few just cross with their heads turned the other way. Some cell phone users do the same.

Most of the bikers are also like this, but they fly out of the street, scaring the flying crap out of you!

Both the above I have almost hit on more than a few occasions. Every month . I won't be mentioning small children.

The last person I'm worried about is a blind person. I'm more worried about those that just don't give a flying damn and are either hoping for a death wish or to press a lawsuit .

Yes, I do have Prius.

By masher2 on 10/3/2007 3:24:20 PM , Rating: 3
> "So what you are saying is that if you have a disability you should be limited in what you do even if you were able to do it before?"

Isn't that the definition of a "disability"?

I'm sorry, but if you're blind, you're going to have a harder time than someone who isn't. No amount of hand-wringing and wishful thinking is going to change that. If you're blind, you shouldn't be crossing roads without an escort or seeing-eye dog, period. A little extra noise from a car isn't enough of a safety factor.

By Melric on 10/3/2007 3:55:56 PM , Rating: 2
We have lots of intersections around here that give audio cues so that you know when you can cross the street. Blind people use these all the time to know when it is safe to cross the street. You do not need someone to help you cross the street.

We also have a @!$% ton of laws that make life easier for handicap people. Ramps into public buildings for one. It probably does not make sense here because this sounds pretty lame, but regulation to assist handicap people is not a foreign concept.

By Adonlude on 10/3/2007 4:46:13 PM , Rating: 3
I 100% agree. Disability means that ones ability is reduced or gone. Our society does much to provide for the small percentage of people who are disabled even though disability is usually no fault of society's.

The disabled were dealt a bad hand. That is very very very unfortunate but at the same time it is not everyone elses problem.

Remember that in many societies throughout our worlds history, and even currently in some regions, the disabled are killed at birth. This is terrible, obviously, but it also gives perspective.

Our enlightened western society gives alot to the less fortunate. The problem is that people keep asking for more in this rediculous era of ever increassing political correctness.

We are not putting noisemakers on our cars and if the blind wish to press this issue then I move to take away handicap parking!

By psyph3r on 10/3/2007 11:40:39 PM , Rating: 2
evolution is severely hampered by our societal position ;)

By RMSe17 on 10/4/2007 8:54:15 AM , Rating: 3
Would you say the same if your children had disabilities?

By tedrodai on 10/4/2007 9:49:18 AM , Rating: 3
Hopefully he won't have any children.

By TheGreek on 10/4/2007 1:36:52 PM , Rating: 2
And if we're really lucky he won't vote either.

Or better yet, run over by some driver who "wasn't looking".

By Zoomer on 10/4/2007 11:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
It would probably be kinder to, ahem, avoid the problem if it arises.

However, it's probably not legal.

By BladeVenom on 10/3/2007 4:18:50 PM , Rating: 3
I'm sorry, but if you're blind, you're going to have a harder time than someone who isn't. No amount of hand-wringing and wishful thinking is going to change that.

We could make everybody blind.

By RMSe17 on 10/4/2007 8:52:04 AM , Rating: 4
I propose the opposite. Let everyone see.

By tjr508 on 10/3/2007 3:34:45 PM , Rating: 2
3) How about let communities themselves decide what to do if there actually is a problem instead of forcing your idealistic views on everyone else?

By mdogs444 on 10/3/2007 4:02:45 PM , Rating: 1
"forcing idealistic views" is what liberals do best my friend.

By zombiexl on 10/3/2007 4:16:33 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot to add... As long as it doesnt directly interfere with their lives.

By milomnderbnder21 on 10/3/2007 6:32:42 PM , Rating: 4
Oh, you mean like restricting contraceptives in favor of abstinence classes, or waging 'wars' against ideas such as terror or drug trade, or vetoing bipartisan legislation to give millions of kids health care because it will make them all little communists...

Wait, those aren't liberals...

Both sides do it. At least liberals don't kill people or prohibit things that save lives.

I hate seeing these blanket political statements, for some reason they always show up here on dailytech harassing liberals, like it's some sort of sin to believe the government should provide more services to people.

By Shoal07 on 10/4/2007 9:14:50 AM , Rating: 1
like it's some sort of sin to believe the government should provide more services to people.

Not a sin, just counter to the ideals in the Constituion and those of our Founding Fathers who believed in a small central government mainly there to collect taxes and provide for our safety (i.e. Military). But, believe what you like.

By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 10/5/2007 11:32:25 AM , Rating: 2
If the communities decide what you should do, then every community I drive my hybrid into is going to have a different regulation as to whether I can drive my car there and how. I think the answer is the audible cross walks. Also, the drivers could try not to hit pedestrians, whether they are blind or not. If it comes to it, though, I don't mind putting a siren on my car that runs every time it is in electric only mode. Or better yet, an audible car voice that says "I am a car, you are an idiot." Something to give the audible cue, you know? =)

By retrospooty on 10/3/2007 3:42:45 PM , Rating: 3
"So what you are saying is that if you have a disability you should be limited in what you do even if you were able to do it before?"

That's not really what I meant exactly, but we can't have lawsuits against hybrid makers to force them to make them noisier so that the very few blind people that are skilled, and brave enough to cross without crosswalks or dogs. That takes teh numner drmatically down from .4% to miniscule amounts.

By dsumanik on 10/3/2007 3:58:34 PM , Rating: 1
Good ideas,

I see a far more simple solution that already exists on the market today:

Hearing aids.

Can't hear anything? Crank the volume when you cross the street and cover your ass!

Companies, taxpayers and citizens should not be responsibile for specefic and expensive disabilities of a minute portion of the population.

personal safety is the responsibility of us all, not just the blind. If you cross the street you make sure it is safe to do so, not walk out blindly and hope everyone stops.

Do we srat making conveyor belts for the people missing limbs?

No they purchase wheelchairs.

By Oregonian2 on 10/3/2007 6:45:51 PM , Rating: 2
Have a hearing aid turned up and the car blasts its horn, the person is now both blind and deaf.

By TheGreek on 10/4/2007 1:38:50 PM , Rating: 1
You're confusing them with the facts.

Please continue.

By mihai on 10/4/2007 11:19:29 PM , Rating: 2
You are too cynical guys…

Would it be THAT hard to make cars louder? Or impose a standard beep that each car makes, with loudness proportional to the vehicle speed? It’s 0.4% of the population that we are talking about…

And, since we’re at it, why not make cars project warning signs on buildings and roads around, so that deaf people observe them easier? How much could that cost with lasers so cheap nowadays?

Obviously, it would be a bit more complicated for both deaf and blind people. But, would it be so hard to introduce some large subwoofers in each vehicle, so that vibrations alert them? Everybody could benefit… when you stop shaking is safe to cross the road.

However, all this leaves out the deaf and blind and paralyzed people out. I’m still not sure what would be more efficient: install traffic control systems that would automatically stop all vehicles when they get near roads or just move to Mars…

By dude on 10/4/2007 11:24:56 PM , Rating: 2
And, since we’re at it, why not make cars project warning signs on buildings and roads around, so that deaf people observe them easier? How much could that cost with lasers so cheap nowadays?

So now, we have drivers with lasers and projectors blinding other drivers and pedestrians?

Not a good idea, I do believe. :)

I do like the subwoofer idea, though. However, I must add that the only sound that can be played is either something from Guns n Roses or pink noise. Love it or hate it, it should become law.

By mihai on 10/4/2007 11:37:39 PM , Rating: 2

So now, we have drivers with lasers and projectors blinding other drivers and pedestrians?

Not a good idea, I do believe. :)

Yup, didnt thought about that. Guess all non-blind people should wear some radio device to prevent lasers being pointed at them...

Moving to Mars seems more and more like a good ideea. What the heck, i always wanted to go into space!

By Andrevas on 10/3/2007 3:00:34 PM , Rating: 2
I see plenty of blind people walking the streets during the day (so at least they are seen) alone, all they have is their hearing and their navigation stick thing to find obstacles in front

By Alexstarfire on 10/3/2007 4:21:22 PM , Rating: 2
That is their problem then. I'm sure many of us regular folks know that you can't take cues from just one source because not everything caters to that one source. A stick may be the best way to find a wall or ledge or something, but to find anything that moves a stick is generally a pretty bad way to find it. Seeing eye dogs are trained for a reason you know. I think a blind person crossing the street without some type of livng creature guiding them is a bit moronic in my opinion. A stick and your ears aren't going to be identifying a car that is a couple hundred feet off.

By clovell on 10/3/2007 3:01:18 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you on this one, Jason. A much easier remedy is for somebody to simple take the 20 seconds and help the blind person cross the street.

Regulating this just seems silly, and I'm looking forward to quieter cars.

By FITCamaro on 10/3/2007 3:07:56 PM , Rating: 2
Definitely with you on this one.

By Misty Dingos on 10/3/2007 3:10:59 PM , Rating: 3
Not a PC type myself so I am thinking that since the issue here resides with about .4% of the population I think we should make the cars .4% louder.

It is either that or they limit the speed of all vehicles to 5 mph or less and have giant cushy soft foam bumpers.

But what about the people in America that are deaf and blind! How can we protect them?

Better yet. If you are blind, partially blind, deaf or any combination of blind and deaf you have to wear a hat that has a bright blue strobe light on it. That way we will all be made aware of your disability. And thus not kill you with our cars or trucks.

By Chernobyl68 on 10/3/2007 4:14:19 PM , Rating: 3
and a blind, deaf person would know the stobe battery is dead how? :)

By rdeegvainl on 10/4/2007 2:22:48 AM , Rating: 2
hand powered crank? maybe, could solve dead battery issue. Till the deaf blind person gets shot cause the local gang thinks its the popo

By Harbmike99 on 10/3/2007 11:22:47 PM , Rating: 2
I have a friend thats is both blind and deaf. She has to hold a sign to have someone to help her cross the street. That is dangerous in todays world. But she manages to get round. I just pray that no perv will end up helping her.

One of my other friends that is blind deaf, she got rape because of that.

True more noise will help some blind. But the crosswalks we have hear beep so the blind will know when it is safe to cross. I think that is a better system. And they should have a braille display on the pole for the blind deaf.

Hey if they had a braille display there would be no need for the noise.

By Fire404 on 10/4/2007 4:32:07 AM , Rating: 3
Nah you couldn't use a strobe - that would prompt law suits from epileptics (though not blind ones)...

By Nighteye2 on 10/3/2007 3:26:31 PM , Rating: 3
I disagree - setting a minimum where none exists is not a slippery slope - raising a pre-existing minimum could be, but that is not the case here.

Without being blind, I too find it comforting to have auditory cues in addition to visual cues - I only have eyes on the front of my head, after all, and sometimes cars come from behind me or from behind a wall near a corner of the street.

Car noise adds to the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, especially. It does not need to be excessively loud, but too silent is just not safe.

I would propose to let scientists determine how much noise is required for a reasonable level of safety, and use that as the minimum.

By Polynikes on 10/3/2007 4:45:56 PM , Rating: 2
In a crowded city, like, say, New York, do you really think the average person even notices the sound of a car driving slowly? What with all the ambient noise from people walking around them, talking, taxis honking, etc, I doubt it would make much of a difference there. I suppose you could argue a blind person with a better sense of hearing might be able to hear through the din better, but who knows for sure?

By clovell on 10/3/2007 4:56:31 PM , Rating: 2
Or, ride your bike against the direction of traffic.

By nekobawt on 10/4/2007 2:03:14 PM , Rating: 2
bad plan, given bikes are considered vehicles and driving against the flow of traffic is illegal (pretty dangerous, too). this might just be an arizona thing, but you're not supposed to ride against traffic even if you're on the sidewalk, which i find retarded, but there you go (loads of cyclists do it, of course). i once got cited for traffic violation by going against the flow of traffic in a bike lane (there's more to the story than that, but that's the only detail really relevant to the discussion).

really, the best way to survive on or near the road as a pedestrian or byciclist is to assume that all drivers are AIMING for you. in a perfect world, all drivers would be watching the road and practicing defensive driving at all times and accidents wouldn't happen. but they do, because people just don't pay attention.

and that's the point--blind people pay attention by being able to hear cars come and go. saying "oh, just get a guide dog or personal aide" is kind of ignorant since not everyone has the resources for that kind of assistance, and i doubt our system is so perfect and wonderful that everyone who needs help is getting it. i don't doubt there are many who aren't "blind enough" to "require" a seeing-eye dog, just as there are thousands who aren't broke enough to qualify for food stamps, but still can't feed their kids.

By Polynikes on 10/3/2007 4:43:27 PM , Rating: 2
No, cars don't need bigger engines to be louder, they all need beepers! Every car should have a nice loud beeper on it that beeps once a second, so the poor blind people won't get run over. Come to think of it, we should put beepers on everything we can! Lamp posts, those are dangerous, blind people might miss them with their walking stick and bump into one! They leave NASTY bruises, you know!

There should be a different type of beeper for curbs, lord knows a blind person could do a face-plant if they didn't know a step was coming! Oh!! How did I forget!? BUILDINGS!!! THOSE are dangerous! We need ANOTHER beeper for those so the blind people know they're there! Bicycles, motorcycles, baby carriages, wheelchairs, airplanes, you name it, if it's a threat to blind people, we damn well better get a beeper on it!

By theapparition on 10/4/2007 8:03:08 AM , Rating: 1
Why add beepers when you could just remove the mufflers?

By TheGreek on 10/4/2007 1:42:15 PM , Rating: 2
Anybody who removes his mufflers should have to sit behind their own exhaust to get an idea what they put other people through.

By Moishe on 10/4/2007 8:04:31 AM , Rating: 2
You're right... I was thinking when I read this article that blind people have adapted to vehicles over time and now vehicles are changing. I think the blind should adapt yet again to fit a newer class or vehicles that are almost noiseless.

I think there are ways to do this without using noise as the telltale sign. Common sense says that less noise is better and we shouldn't have to sacrifice one of the benefits of new technology just to stay "backward compatible" with blind people. It's like saying... tire tracks make nice homes for crickets... so we cannot move to a hover car because it will no longer make tire tracks (Dumb analogy I know).

This sounds insensitive but blind people are a tiny minority and while they should be offered help and given methods to interact with their surroundings, we simply cannot remove all consequence of blindness. They ARE disabled and it costs them something. Blindness makes walking in traffic difficult... that's just life. The whole of society should not have to drastically change for the needs of a small minority.

By encryptkeeper on 10/4/2007 8:49:42 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't it a rule that as a driver you MUST stop for anyone crossing the street with a white cane? Doesn't that make this whole argument moot?

By leexgx on 10/4/2007 5:02:41 PM , Rating: 2
problem is your likey to get sued for hitting him (even thought 95% of the time the peeps crossing/Running across road its there fault) and as well loseing no calms for insurance

the peep i hit was drunk and Tryed Run off the sidewark onto road but my car was ther going at 30MPH :P so made an little mess on my car he just got up and when to no broken bones lucky for him

so probly does not matter much if the car makes noise or not some daft person going to jump in front of your car Blind or Not blind
but you are more likey to get some one walking into an toyta Purus then you are an running engine car as due to the noise or the Lack of it (some do use there ears more then there eyes)

there was an report that was done on here long time ago (i think it was on DT) some pizza play used batt powered cars only and thay Hat to Fit engine Noise generators to the cars as peeps was walking out into them (each car had like 3-4 road kills {well not kills just miner bumps nock overs} but still that does prove it ther)

By JonnyDough on 10/4/2007 3:51:06 PM , Rating: 1
After reading all the comments I wish I had more negative votes for all you insensitive pricks. I can't BELIEVE the comments you guys left here. You try being excessively tall, short, fat, having a gimp leg, being blind or deaf, or just in general being a bit unique and DIFFERENT and maybe you guys will gain some perspective. Obviously making cars louder isn't ideal. Motorcycle riders (I am one) LOVE loud bikes and do you know why? It isn't just so they look cool and get more attention. It's also so they don't get killed. There are enough irresponsible, cell-phone yakking drivers out there as it is. The blind have a rough enough life despite ALL the help we give them, which despite what someone said isn't that much here in America. In some countries they VALUE their elderly. In some countries they HELP their blind and take care of them. Here we're pretty ignorant and either try to help someone too much, or ignore them. People that are blind KNOW they are blind, they don't need us to do everything for them. The best thing to do is to tell them that if they would like any help they are free to ask you. I hate being asked if I play basketball because I'm 6'8". I don't walk up to a short person and ask them if they compete in hopscotch or soccer because they're close to the ground and I don't ask blind folks if they play a lot of "Name that Tune." You guys should try walking a day in a disabled's shoes and quit taking your narrowly-perspectived lives for granted. /end a much-needed rant

By TheGreek on 10/4/2007 4:05:26 PM , Rating: 2
Motorcycle riders (I am one) LOVE loud bikes and do you know why?

Because you're an
insensitive prick

It isn't just so they look cool and get more attention. It's also so they don't get killed.

I have never seen a responsible scientifically proven real report that would suggest this is true. It may be, but then please explain why Goldwing riders are dropping like stones.

You have either bought into the b/s hype or you're simply trying to justify infantile behavior to yourself, just like the rest of them.

I would add:
1. Some people may blow off your rights as a human being because you've already done the same to them.
2. You can probably get more noticed in something other than a dark or black color.

By borowki on 10/4/2007 4:29:29 PM , Rating: 2
g=q d
  ^   ^
   |    |--- your boot
   |--- puppy

By TheGreek on 10/5/2007 11:46:35 AM , Rating: 2
I think you need to replace the "boot" with his front tire.

legally blind != without sight
By zombiexl on 10/3/2007 3:51:06 PM , Rating: 5
While were all looking at this small percentage that is blind, dont forget that someone who cant read text can be considered legally blind.

They can however see well enough to see large things like cars, people, etc..

SO basically the percentage of people that should be affected by this is even lower the the insanely low percentage already presented.

RE: legally blind != without sight
By masher2 on 10/3/2007 3:58:52 PM , Rating: 2
A very good point.

RE: legally blind != without sight
By Melric on 10/3/2007 4:07:49 PM , Rating: 2
But you are also artificially limiting any benefit to a small minority of blind people. As a parent, I certainly do not mind that cars are loud coming down the street. It makes my kid sit up and notice cars. I also use audio cues when walking when coming up on a blind driveway or turn. I definitely hear the car before I see the car.

Not saying we need to artificially increase car noise. What I am saying, though, is that audio cues from cars are used by more than the 1.3M people talked about in the article.

Now let's get rid of ramps into buildings. They tend to be damn ugly and are an incredibly inefficient use of space.

RE: legally blind != without sight
By zombiexl on 10/3/2007 4:25:28 PM , Rating: 2
I have small kids too..

I dont expect society to watch out for them I expect them to be responsible when playing near the street. Better yet I expect them to stay off the street unless with an adult.

I expect drivers to be alert as well.

I dont expect some noise from a car to make any difference. Streets are normally full of noise. How exactly do you tell if its just a loud car idling (or going the oposite direction) or a car moving at a resonable speed if you cant see?

Although this sint about kids, its about a minority of people fighting for something they want and saying to hell with the rest of us.

Blind people wont be buying carts, so why would they care if it's annoying all the time (they'll only be near it for 2 seconds anyway) and costs an extra few hundred bucks?

How about we institute a blind tax to pay for these modifications or maybe we could take up donations from people who support the idea.

RE: legally blind != without sight
By Reflex on 10/3/2007 5:31:07 PM , Rating: 2
Vehicles are already responsible for signaling all of thier intentions currently. That means turning, stopping, etc. Why would you change this specifically to benefit cars?

Even people with sight are at risk
By LiquidEric on 10/3/2007 2:53:13 PM , Rating: 4
I've thought about this a lot. More people are going to be hit by these nearly silent cars.

By roastmules on 10/3/2007 3:08:59 PM , Rating: 2
Regardless of the noise a vehicle makes or not, blind or not, people will be hit by cars. Either the pedestrian isn't paying attention, or the driver isn't.
Pedestrians get hit by bicycles, scooters, and other quite vehicles. And, people get hit by busses, which make a lot of noise.

I feel for blind people, and have some blind friends, but I'm against artificial noise for everyone, as I don't think it would really make a difference.

By Hieyeck on 10/3/2007 3:20:18 PM , Rating: 2
While i sympathize with the blind, if everyone had a quiet car, we could just TELL the blind they're walking in the middle of the road. To the average joe... I'd like to think of it like taking the warning labels off dangerous products. If you're too stupid to spend the half second it takes to look both ways, they really shouldn't be procreating.

By ChronoReverse on 10/3/2007 3:26:18 PM , Rating: 2
Is that really true? There are a lot of Priuses where I live (Vancouver BC) and I can say that I definitely can hear them. I'm not blind either so I'm unlikely to have particularly good hearing.

The exception would be heavy traffic. In which case, I wouldn't rely on my hearing to cross the road anyways. I'd either use a crosswalk with blind-friendly audio signals, a dog, or ask someone. It really doesn't seem to add up to me.

By clovell on 10/3/2007 4:59:45 PM , Rating: 1
I have a solution: Drive carefully. Look both ways before crossing a street.

Prius for the Blind
By v1001 on 10/3/2007 4:55:34 PM , Rating: 3
Apparently they made a big enough fuss. A louder Prius is on the way:

RE: Prius for the Blind
By Bioniccrackmonk on 10/3/2007 5:01:23 PM , Rating: 1
OMG, that was the funniest thing I have seen in awhile, especially since it was in context with this article. Kris, give this guy a 6 rating please!!!!

RE: Prius for the Blind
By DeepBlue1975 on 10/4/2007 9:42:54 AM , Rating: 2

I can imagine a law asking people to turn their audio equipment to full blast while keeping their windows down so the blind can "feel" them.

And then would come the news "More deaf people because of new law. Blind people don't see a problem at all with that, and the deaf wouldn't wanna hear any more about it".

Seriously, though, if they get what they want, then should come a law forbidding them to use any portable music player at all while on the streets.

RE: Prius for the Blind
By TheGreek on 10/4/2007 4:09:14 PM , Rating: 3
I can imagine a law asking people to turn their audio equipment to full blast while keeping their windows down so the blind can "feel" them.

We have them, they're called teenagers.

Hybrid retrofit?
By kileil on 10/3/2007 2:58:52 PM , Rating: 5
Perhaps Toyota could release a dealer installed baseball card and spokes kit.

RE: Hybrid retrofit?
By zombiexl on 10/3/2007 3:58:15 PM , Rating: 2
I'm going to go apply for a patent for that idea right now..

By tjr508 on 10/3/2007 3:20:05 PM , Rating: 2
I knew my V8 Chevy pickup with dual glas-packs and turn-downs was good for humanity in some way. Now I have a good excuse for the naysayers (and the neighbors).

RE: Great!
By Bioniccrackmonk on 10/3/2007 4:53:50 PM , Rating: 2
You should get a NFoB Certified sticker on your bumper as proof. LOL

RE: Great!
By TheGreek on 10/4/2007 1:27:34 PM , Rating: 2
Arrogant noise makers have never needed an excuse.

By v1001 on 10/3/2007 3:23:15 PM , Rating: 2
Strange this was never brought up about mopeds. I wonder how many blind people are dead now from tragicly being mauled down by mopeds.

After this we definitely need to do something about those sail boats too. The list of blind people tragicly mauled down by those "silent deaths" is growing out of control. It's like a blind person can't go swimming in the ocean anymore.

Dont even get me started on hang gliders. Soon blind people wont be able to fly safely either.

RE: Agreed
By EODetroit on 10/3/2007 3:43:00 PM , Rating: 2
They should totally require wind chimes on all hang gliders now.

RE: Agreed
By bob4432 on 10/3/2007 5:16:23 PM , Rating: 2
being disabled (fully, but not blind) i am really surprised they are raising such a fuss. sorry, w/ my disability i just go with it - and it is not a "weak" or "small" disability, it has changed my life as it is the result of an injury.

these cars are not as quiet as a bicycle and obviously the difference in a collision is obvious, but are they next?

i live in a one of the larger cities in the US and most of the stop lights i see are not even blind friendly except in Tempe, AZ, which probably has more to do w/ the lights that are around the ASU campus and not really city wide.

this is probably somehow funded by some oil company...haha

We all take sound cues
By ET on 10/4/2007 6:28:10 AM , Rating: 2
I'm a seeing person, yet I know that I often use the sound of vehicles to know that they're on the road.

In general, I'd say the people tend to find sound cues important. For example digital cameras make totally unnecessary noises just to let you know they've taken a picture.

Personally, I think that adding some noise is a decent solution, since it can help the blind and otherwise hurts little (assuming it'd still be quieter than standard cars). However, any law or regulation has to consider how the noise compares to the ambient noise, and not set an absolute minimum, so that when quiet cars become standard, the ambient noise level will become lower.

RE: We all take sound cues
By Aarnando on 10/4/2007 8:30:06 AM , Rating: 2
The world would be much nicer if everything gave sound cues. That's why I'm so excited about the House of the Future:

I'm not blind, but I plan to get one anyway.

RE: We all take sound cues
By DeepBlue1975 on 10/4/2007 9:04:26 AM , Rating: 2
I always turn off all of those funky sounds from my digicam :D

I'm a silence lover, and would be glad to pay big bucks in taxes just to have a quieter world, one in where all of the sound cues you could get would be indicating something really abnormal (as normality would be a very quiet environment)

Besides, if we turn down most of the ambient's noises, our hearing ability will be more likely to keep in good shake for far more time than what you get by living in "noisy cities" :D

I agree
By gigahertz20 on 10/3/2007 2:57:13 PM , Rating: 3
"To further expose millions of people to excessive noise pollution by making vehicles artificially loud is neither logical nor practical nor in the public interest."

I couldn't agree more....making cars or anything else artificially louder just for the blind hurts the ~ 99.6% of us that aren't blind.

RE: I agree
By mmntech on 10/3/2007 4:22:31 PM , Rating: 2
Tell me about it. I back onto a truck route that didn't used to be a truck route until the town unilaterally changed its mind. Can't keep my windows open anymore because the traffic is so loud.

Still, I am sympathetic to these blind people. People rarely look out for pedestrians. I think that's the key here. Not making cars louder but getting drivers to pay attention.

Ha, nice picture
By MightyPez on 10/3/2007 2:53:22 PM , Rating: 2
U-Turn in his Hybrid.

RE: Ha, nice picture
By eyebeeemmpawn on 10/3/2007 4:21:19 PM , Rating: 2
...he taught me to drive by...

Artificial noise
By FreakyD on 10/3/2007 4:49:08 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe they need a fake engine noise... reminds me of the fake camera click that can't be disabled on my cell phone. There's also the fake coin dispensing noise on slot machines now that most use tickets instead of real money.

RE: Artificial noise
By marvdmartian on 10/4/2007 10:07:56 AM , Rating: 2
That's an easy fix. Just wire some jingle bells onto the car, so it jingles as it's driven down the street. Similar to when you put one on your 2 year old's shoe laces, to help keep track of them!! ;)

Other means of propulsion
By Boushh on 10/3/2007 5:49:12 PM , Rating: 2
In the Netherlands we have cars that drive on natural gas. You can refill generaly at any normal gas-station.

Now, natural gas is much more environment friendly than diesel, hybrid cars or regular gasoline. It's also a lot cheaper (here it's 1/3 of the price of regular gasoline).

Oh, and on the topic: natural gas powered cars make normal sounds because they use a normal engine. And the engine can run on normal feul if no gas is available.

And abit off topic:

legally blind

Can you be ILLEGALLY blind in the US ?

RE: Other means of propulsion
By MightyAA on 10/3/2007 6:13:21 PM , Rating: 2
Can you be ILLEGALLY blind in the US ?

Sort of. Legally blind has parameters I believe. That may not mean you can't see. My daughter is legally deaf, however with hearing aids, she hears fairly well (listening is a different story). So there's a difference between totally blind and legally blind.

I also commute past a blind school every day. Very few dogs. They seem to find their way around fairly well; including short cutting across a field :P. Only once have I seen one stagger into traffic... And guess what, we stopped until he found the sidewalk again. It will be more dangerous for all pedestrians as more of these cars hit the roads, particularly the blind..

the jetsons
By jedisoulfly on 10/3/2007 5:51:41 PM , Rating: 2
just make then sound like George's car

RE: the jetsons
By jedisoulfly on 10/3/2007 5:53:23 PM , Rating: 2
"make them" stupid typos

What's so difficult?
By Schugy on 10/3/2007 6:52:44 PM , Rating: 2
Every car just needs a short range sender and the blinds need receivers with sound and vibration. If they want to cross a street they should have a button to activate their sender for 30 seconds (or infinite time).
With some modulation the signal can even tell the blinds whether the car is accelerating or turning left or right.
What's the problem with this 10$ solution? Hybrids have computers anyway and it's not a big obstacle to write the software to send the right signals to the blinds. Talking about it more time than it takes to solve it is ridiculous.

RE: What's so difficult?
By rtrski on 10/3/2007 10:47:54 PM , Rating: 2
I should be easy to get the hybrid makers to agree on some sort of short-range transmitter, that the blind can somehow use to get 'pings' if there's a hybrid in range, in motion. Give the signal to those who perceive they need it...don't take away an advantage of my car (the quiet) by making it artificially noisier. I disabled my internal backing-up beep, too.

Ultimately though, in pedestrian vs. car encounters, unless the ped is rushing into a high-speed street at a blind point, the driver's supposed to be paying attention though. Quiet cars mean stupid sighted people stepping blithely in front of you in parking lots all the time, and I've got to be aware of that. Makes me want to installed external airbags and mow them down. :evil:

Rally Prius (Priui?)
By SoCalBoomer on 10/3/2007 7:23:40 PM , Rating: 2
Evidently (at least anecdotally) they had this same problem with a few Priui (plural for Prius?) which were being run in RallyAmerica races - they had to place a small siren on them or course workers and spectators wouldn't know they were coming.

RE: Rally Prius (Priui?)
By werepossum on 10/3/2007 8:46:18 PM , Rating: 2
someone should take a few members from NoiseOFF, stab a soldering iron in their eyes, and make them walk across a busy 25mph street full of hybrids, see how illogical they think it is after that.

ROFLMAO! Spreading liberal love by stabbing people in the eyes with a soldering iron.

Forget blind people - what about idiots on cell phones? At least blind people are paying attention! And what about loud intersections? Obviously the only solution is to require every car to be equipped with a pre-set 500W stereo system with a 100W subwoofer and a non-removable Kanye West CD.

Think how much gas THAT would save!

How about proximity detectors?
By pnyffeler on 10/3/2007 4:08:30 PM , Rating: 3
Why not just put some kind of transmitter in cars, then hand blind people receivers that beep when a car is approaching?

The Blind
By Reflex on 10/3/2007 5:15:28 PM , Rating: 3
A close friend of mine lost his sight recently due to circumstances beyond his control. Suffice it to say, the adaption has been difficult, but he is managing. The worst part is the absolute boredom, there are only so many books on tape to listen to. If he were not able to walk his dog and get out of the house routinely I think he would likely commit suicide. No, I am not exaggerating. Think about what life was like if you absolutely lost all ability to interact with the world at large and other humans for the vast majority of every day.

Silent cars are a severe danger. Traffic regulations clearly put the burden of signaling on the vehicles themselves. That means turn signals, headlights, brake lights, horns, etc. I do not see any reason for this to be different. No one is asking that they be loud, just able to be distinguished against other noises. I would suggest a tone of some sort that is low pitched enough to blend in with the environment, but distinctive enough that someone who was listening for it would be able to notice it with ease. I do not feel that is too much to ask, and it is consistent with existing traffic laws and where they place the burden.

Deaf and silent cars
By holymaniac on 10/3/2007 5:25:20 PM , Rating: 2
There is too much noise pollution as it is. Find another solution. Don't try to add noise where there is none. Just because someone is deaf does not mean they are never full of crap. i think these people are full of crap. They are people just like everyone else and I really do not like them trying to make life noisier.

Deaf and silent cars
By holymaniac on 10/3/2007 5:27:21 PM , Rating: 2
I meant blind (not deaf) (previous post)

What are the odds
By tremiles on 10/3/2007 5:57:52 PM , Rating: 2
According to the Green Car Congress, Hybrid Electric automobile sales in February 2007 were around 18000 units. While not directly comparable, US total light vehicle sales (cars and light trucks) in September were around 1.3 Million. What are the odds that:

1. A blind pedestrian crosses the street with no sighted assistance while:

2. A nearly silent hybrid electric vehicle nears a pedestrian crossing while:

3. No traditional gasoline powered vehicle is also nearing a pedestrian crossing?

I'm sorry, but this screams of PC paranoia.

RE: What are the odds
By JoshuaBuss on 10/7/07, Rating: 0
By NullSubroutine on 10/3/2007 6:10:12 PM , Rating: 2
I would think that if you simply installed some sort of medium range RF devise in these 'silent cars' then allow the blind access to some sort of universal receiver that beeps or vibrates when a hybrid car comes near.

Of course its much easier to complain than spend the 15 seconds to come up with simple suggestion. (Unless of course I read the source article and they did suggest something.)

By SiliconAddict on 10/3/2007 6:10:31 PM , Rating: 2
Oh boo hoo. I'm sorry but my Prius even at low speeds usually turns on its ICE occasionally. Even in parking lots.
So what would they suggest. Yell out my window...GET OUT OF MY WAY! GET OUT OF MY WAY! GET OUT OF MY WAY! GET OUT OF MY WAY! GET OUT OF MY WAY! GET OUT OF MY WAY! Yah know a better idea? Have hybrid owners pay attention to where they are going. I know its a pretty original concept but if someone is legally blind they probably have a cane..right? If you see someone with a cane turn on your car's vent and slow down.

By nyarrgh on 10/3/2007 8:48:54 PM , Rating: 2
even aside from the PC/not PC discussion, this is not good.
instead of spending money to increase noise pollution, we should spend money to make more blind friendly stoplights. They will be less costly and will make noise only in places that need them, and only at the correct time.

By ATWindsor on 10/4/2007 1:44:46 AM , Rating: 2
Revent research indicates that thousands of people die an early death due to the stress of to much noise. Having cars that are to noisy is a stupid idea. If the blind need help, installl som kind of sender in the car, and a reciver that the blind carries.

By Free Thinker on 10/4/2007 2:25:26 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't it understood that pedestrians have the right of way? So if you walk out in front of a car, the car is supposed to stop. If the driver is not paying attention, he's going to run you down; it doesn't matter whether you're blind or not.

Let's go back!
By KenGoding on 10/4/2007 11:38:08 AM , Rating: 2
We should go back to using horse and buggy!

But then we'd have complaints that the blind might step in the exhaust.

By TheGreek on 10/4/2007 1:23:42 PM , Rating: 2
For people with recruitment and hyperacusis the boom-box vomit-comet teenager cars, the no muffler Harleys ridden by the self absorbed, and the coffee can muffler crowd all cause pain in these disable people.

What about them?

Oh, when did blind people give up the fight against bicycles?

Electric wine?
By PrinceGaz on 10/4/2007 2:08:24 PM , Rating: 2
One other negative has been leveled against hybrids in the past and that is in regards to their near-silent operation in city driving. Since most hybrids turn off their gasoline engine during low-speed city driving and rely on electric motors for propulsion, the most noise that many people may hear from the vehicles are a slight electric wine and a hint of tire noise.

I've never come across electric wine in my local off-licence (liquor store). Does it taste nice, and what is the electricity used for? :p

what a bunch of elitist @#@#@@!s
By Andrevas on 10/3/07, Rating: -1
By clovell on 10/3/2007 3:06:08 PM , Rating: 2
You're only counting the benefits from making cars noisier. Quieter cars will increase overall awareness and lead to a reduced number of accidents across the board.

So, let's focus on logic and look at both sides of the debate, rather than advocating violence.

RE: what a bunch of elitist @#@#@@!s
By DeepBlue1975 on 10/3/2007 3:18:50 PM , Rating: 2
When I'm dizzy and feeling sick, I don't go out there trying to get across avenues.
Being blind sucks, but making up a ridiculously undesirable situation for 99.6% of your population just to please the other 0.4%, is not rational at all.
Petrol cars with small engines travelling at very low speeds like 10-20mph are silent enough that you can't hear from them anything more than the tires rolling.

Maybe 0.4% of people are higher than 7" tall, and that does not make every door designer make doors higher because "those poor too-tall guys could slam their heads".

Silent operation is a great thing to be accomplished by auto makers, some day all cars might be all electric and you can't expect a stupid artificial noise generator to be used just because that little 0.4% of the population doesn't want to ask for someone's help when crossing the street, or doesn't want to be around there with a trained dog.

RE: what a bunch of elitist @#@#@@!s
By masher2 on 10/3/2007 3:34:30 PM , Rating: 2
> "Maybe 0.4% of people are higher than 7" tall, and that does not make every door designer make doors higher..."

OT here, but US standard door height is only 6'8". When I built my last house, I had to pay extra for 7' doors.

RE: what a bunch of elitist @#@#@@!s
By ninjit on 10/3/2007 6:16:15 PM , Rating: 5
You're close to 7' tall??

No wonder you don't care about global-warming, when the water-levels rise you won't drown.

By masher2 on 10/3/2007 7:49:10 PM , Rating: 2
Lol, no. 6'1" actually...but I hate feeling cramped :p

By TheGreek on 10/4/2007 4:13:04 PM , Rating: 2
You're close to 7' tall??

You need to see the height of his propaganda files.

RE: what a bunch of elitist @#@#@@!s
By JonnyDough on 10/4/2007 3:59:28 PM , Rating: 1
I'm actually currently house shopping, and let me tell you that life is tough enough being 6'7" without being a minority race, disabled, etc. I'm a college-educated white male in America...and I'd be a real jerk to complain to the world about low counter-tops, ceilings, clothing, shoes, cars, job opportunities, food and gas prices, etc. We live in arguably one of the richest nations on earth. We have more job opportunities than any 3rd world country and yet we complain about a "low-pay" job where we make $12 an hour and do almost nothing. The majority of American's need a real ass-kicking and it's no surprise to me that the world hates us. I hate us. You want to know the real threat to this country? It isn't terrorists. It's ignorance. We've got it so good and we're big fat bullies with no honor left. If we had some real knowledge and perspective we'd be ashamed of what we are and offer apologies to many many people the world over but we've got too much British blood in us.

By TheGreek on 10/5/2007 11:49:27 AM , Rating: 2
And who had ever displayed a higher level of arrogance and dismal of other people than the average Harley rider?

RE: what a bunch of elitist @#@#@@!s
By FITCamaro on 10/3/2007 3:19:04 PM , Rating: 2
How are they being elitist? They're not saying they're better than blind people.

They're right. To artificially make cars louder is ridiculous. I'm no fan of hybrids, but it'd be retarded to make them make noise just for the off chance that a blind person is around and needs to hear them coming.

I mean if we make cars artificially loud then we'll have to do the same to bikes. They don't make noise. How about segways? Electric scooters? Golf carts? Where do we draw the line?

And 1.3 million people still only represents a third of a percent of our population. One of the biggest problems in this country right now is that we're too focused on catering to the minority.

A single family sued over prayer in school. Gone(I'm far from religious). A minority didn't want to say the pledge of allegiance in school. Gone. A minority doesn't like "In God We Trust" on the money. We're talking about removing it. A minority doesn't like the idea of cameras to photograph red light runners(god forbid we catch illegal acts on film). Not there. Need I go on.

By zombiexl on 10/3/2007 3:48:04 PM , Rating: 2
Better watch out....

A minority group my try to take away your right to complain about minority groups taking away other people's rights.

I think you hit the nail on the head. In a country founded on majority rule we have been stuck in this PC "lets not let anyone's feelings get hurt (as long as they are a minority)" crap for far too long.

RE: what a bunch of elitist @#@#@@!s
By Pythias on 10/3/2007 5:08:53 PM , Rating: 3
One of the biggest problems in this country right now is that we're too focused on catering to the minority.

OH to be a blind, black, lesbian, vegetarian, atheist! The world would be my oyster.

By FITCamaro on 10/3/2007 8:54:23 PM , Rating: 2

This deserves a 5.

By JonnyDough on 10/4/2007 4:06:32 PM , Rating: 1
Actually, if you're being discriminated against because of what you are that's one thing. The blind don't choose to be blind. If you're atheist that's up to you though, and there's this little thing called respect that goes both ways. I'm an atheist, and as long as people don't push their superstitious, war-starting, rhetorical bull-crap on me and my offspring - I won't burn sacred things like crosses in my yard in protest. If you think I sound extreme you obviously haven't been reading up on your chosen religion's history.

By JonnyDough on 10/4/2007 4:00:48 PM , Rating: 1
Retarded eh? Interesting word choice. Sad for you, but interesting.

By SeeManRun on 10/3/2007 3:39:08 PM , Rating: 2
I think he should use a crosswalk, and when indicated he can cross safely, put his stick way out in front of him before crossing the street, and take his chances. Not much choice, even noisy cars run red lights. And if you are crossing a 6 lane road, its not like you can easily pick out one car turning right and into your cross walk when there are cars whizzing by in the same direction you are walking anyway.

RE: what a bunch of elitist @#@#@@!s
By 91TTZ on 10/3/2007 3:53:05 PM , Rating: 2
so doing something to hybrid vehicles to make the streets safer for 1.3 MILLION people is illogical?

No. The logical thing to do would be to inconvenience the other 300 million people in order to make the 1.3 million happy.

RE: what a bunch of elitist @#@#@@!s
By Reflex on 10/3/2007 5:24:30 PM , Rating: 2
Just how exactly would you be inconvenienced by a low pitched tone simply meant to convey that a vehicle is present?

By rdeegvainl on 10/4/2007 2:58:58 AM , Rating: 2
so how would a low pitched tone being constantly emitted not be an inconvenience, It might even drive some insane, what about the millions that don't want that buzzing in their head for all eternity?

RE: what a bunch of elitist @#@#@@!s
By ATWindsor on 10/4/2007 1:48:57 AM , Rating: 1
When the bacside is excessive noise, that is illogical, yes. Thousands of people die earlier each year bevause of stress-releated problems connected to noise.

By TheGreek on 10/5/2007 2:24:19 PM , Rating: 2
Of which insensitive pricks on Harleys can claim a large percentage of credit for.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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