Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hybrids Too Quiet for Blind People

I've seen other stories like this one:

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.
They want hybrids to make more noise, and that makes sense to me. The problem is that anti-noise advocates disagree:

"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 Richard Tur, founder of NoiseOFF, a group that raises awareness of noise pollution.
Geez, you just can't do a darn thing in this country without pissing off some special interest group! And here's a guy with his head in the sand:
"The only way to function driving any car, forgetting the fact that it's a Prius, is to just be very careful and see who's around you," said George Margolin of Newport Beach, Calif., who runs a club for Prius owners with his wife. "We have to be as careful as anyone else and perhaps even more so."
Sure, that would be nice, but it's just not going to happen. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and other motorists get injured or killed hourly by inattentive drivers. Telling drivers "to just be very careful" isn't going to change anything. I don't trust the guy in his car to protect me. The people on the other side of the windshield -- with or without sight -- need all the help they can get to look out for themselves.

Fortunately, I have a simple solution for the auto industry that will save them millions of dollars in research. Simply install those little plastic tickers like my Big Wheel used to have! The anti-noise people won't like it -- my dad even refused to install that part when assembling later Big Wheels -- but keeping the blind from getting run over is a little more important. Don't they already have it hard enough? (I believe the bravest people in Chicago are the ones I see tapping their way through the El stations.) We can't make the blind see, but we can give the anti-noise people ear plugs.

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