February 14, 2007

What a load of crap.

Hybrid cars dangerously quiet for pedestrians: US blind group

WASHINGTON (AFP) - An association of blind Americans has warned that cars with hybrid engines using electricy and fuel are dangerously too quiet for pedestrians.

The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) said hybrid cars pose a risk to the blind, children, the elderly, cyclists and distracted pedestrians.

The group said it conducted tests with blind people.

"We had the car drive by in different situations, to see wether or not people could hear it and use the sound of the car to safely cross the street, and they could not. The car was just silent," NFB spokesman John Pare told AFP.

Pare said NFB does not want to add to noise pollution, but hybrid cars should not be less noisy than other cars.

Chris Danielsen, a 36-year-old NFB member, said up to 30 people took part in tests on a side street and in an alleyway with a Toyota Prius and a Honda Civic.

"We all stood on the side of the street and the idea was to raise your hand as you heard the car approach," Danielsen said.

"We generally couldn't sense that it was there right in front of us, which of course, if we had been standing in the road, would have been running right over us," he said.

"By the time anybody detected it, if we had actually been standing in the road, it would have taken out three or four people." [...]

Apparently being blind also requires you to become an idiot.

Look, there are gasoline-engined cars out there that idle quietly enough (especially luxury makes) to not make enough sound for a person with regular hearing to know they're running. And the test? Good grief, it was bogus on the very face of it--why not test a variety of cars to see when the blind people could hear them? And test them on a street instead of an alley.

A thing you have to remember is that something travelling toward you is going to have a higher pitch to it due to the Doppler effect which can make it harder to hear, and if you combine that fact with the lack of sound coming from a quiet gas burner running on a smooth road with the typical ambient noise you get in an urban environment, you'd be hard-pressed even if you've got a Superman-level of hearing to know anything's coming.

I'm sure their heart's in the right place--and I don't want people getting mowed down either--but the idea that "hybrid cars should not be less noisy than other cars," is idiotic on the face of it, because although there are standards for the maximum amount of noise a car should make, there is no minimum standard.

Vehicle safety requires that drivers be alert for hapless pedestrians, that pedestrians be alert for inattentive drivers, and that pedestrians with disabilities understand the special precautions they need to use to navigate the world.

Posted by Terry Oglesby at February 14, 2007 12:29 PM

This is a test of the commenting system.
This is only a test. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

Pffft, that's easy. Just use a clothes-pin to hold a baseball card in the spokes. Duh.

Worse than inattentive drivers are these yoho's who think they can talk on a cell phone, drink some coffee and steer with their knees while jotting a quick note. How many times have you been needlessly delayed on the road while some noodle-head is yakking on their cellphone and not paying attention to driving?

Are these same people going to complain when I get behind the wheel of my "flying car"?

[BONUS: Granny got a gun!]

Posted by: Marc V at February 15, 2007 07:21 AM