Wednesday, October 03, 2007

More Noise Blogging

I imagine this could be a problem for pedestrians in general, not just the blind.

BALTIMORE -- Gas-electric hybrid vehicles, the status symbol for the environmentally conscientious, are coming under attack from a constituency that doesn't drive: the blind.

Because hybrids make virtually no noise at slower speeds when they run solely on electric power, blind people say they pose a hazard to those who rely on their ears to determine whether it's safe to cross the street or walk through a parking lot.

"I'm used to being able to get sound cues from my environment and negotiate accordingly. I hadn't imagined there was anything I really wouldn't be able to hear," said Deborah Kent Stein, chairwoman of the National Federation of the Blind's Committee on Automotive and Pedestrian Safety. "We did a test, and I discovered, to my great dismay, that I couldn't hear it."
In some ways, the idea of quieter vehicles is appealing. Anyone living near a busy street would attest to that. Hell I live a mile away from it, but on most days I can hear the din of traffic on Veterans Parkway from my back yard. And driving a quieter car would be nice.

However, anyone not paying attention could suffer the consequences of no audio cues that a car is coming. That would probably include cyclists to some extent too.

This is certainly not an insurmountable problem. Adding some sort of warning noise to a vehicle should be easy. And it wouldn’t have to be loud. Maybe they could be unique and of the car owner’s choice, like ring tones on cell phones. Or better yet, how ‘bout we all get that “Hello” recording the ice cram trucks in town use.


Anonymous said...

Screw that nonsense. Just because Johnny McNosight can't hear it is no excuse not to buy a hybrid. Tell 'em to get a dog if they want to cross the street.

JeromeProphet said...

It's not an either or choice being presented. We don't need to expose the U.S. economy, and therefore world economy to collapse, simply because hybrids make less noise.

With technology anything is possible. Most newer automobiles (high end) are equipped with sonar, and lower end autos will have sonar in coming years.

Perhaps that will be a solution, a sensor that the vision impaired can carry which will detect sonar telling them if a car is moving toward them or away from them (using the dopler effect) like radar detectors.

Anyway, it's something which will solve itself as vision impaired people start getting hit, and killed, and the lawsuits start flying about.

End result? We all get cars with sonar, which will make driving safer for everyone.