Hybrids and electric vehicle operate at nearly silent volume. No burble of the engine, or whine of the belt, and no intake noise on acceleration. It all leads to quieter roadways, but what about blind individuals who cannot see a car coming and instead rely on sound to know the placement of a vehicle before crossing a street?
Silence is indeed a problem for electric and hybrid vehicles and changes are being made to accommodate those that rely on sound for their safety.
Senators John Kerry and Arlen Specter introduced a new act to put an end to this problem. The act is called the Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Act of 2009. The main body of the act states that, "New vehicles that employ hybrid or electric engine technology can be silent, rendering them extremely dangerous in situations where vehicles and pedestrians come into proximity of each other."
In order to make the act a law, congress and the house would have to come together and do a study to determine how best to protect pedestrians from silent cars. They will work to determine the best approach to make silent cars noticeable to blind individuals.
Several companies are already working on adding sound to vehicles on their own. At this point there is no law that makes a silent car illegal, but some companies want to be ahead of the game.
Last year, the same act was up before congress and the house, but the act carried the title of the Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Act of 2008. No law has resulted yet, and it appears as though the government is slow in reacted to the safety of people.
Hopefully, the new act will have a greater impact and a law will be written to protect the pedestrians from silent vehicles.
Source: National Federation of the Blind