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The US Senate has unanimously approved John Kerry's legislation, "(1) establishing performance requirements for an alert sound that allows blind and other pedestrians to reasonably detect a nearby electric or hybrid vehicle operating below the cross-over speed, if any; and
(2) requiring new electric or hybrid vehicles to provide an alert sound conforming to the requirements of the motor vehicle safety standard established under this subsection."
The "cross-over" speed is defined as the speed at which tire noise / wind resistance is no longer sufficient to alert people to the presense of a vehicle in motion.
But this requires more research, right? Yes. $2M worth.
Follow the jump for more on this bill, plus we talk with blind guy, and good friend, Brian Bushway who's not only blind, but teaches echolocation to blind children. (Teaser: "really, it would be better for everyone if all the cars were quieter.")
The bill will spend $2,000,000 to:
(1) determine the minimum level of sound emitted from a motor vehicle that is necessary to provide blind and other pedestrians with the information needed to reasonably detect a nearby electric or hybrid vehicle operating at or below the cross-over speed, if any;
(2) determine the performance requirements for an alert sound that is recognizable to a pedestrian as a motor vehicle in operation; and
(3) consider the overall community noise impact.
(c) Phase-in Required- The motor vehicle safety standard prescribed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall establish a phase-in period for compliance, as determined by the Secretary, and shall require full compliance with the required motor vehicle safety standard for motor vehicles manufactured on or after September 1st of the calendar year that begins 3 years after the date on which the final rule is issued.
(d) Required Consultation- When conducting the required study and rulemaking, the Secretary shall--
(1) consult with the Environmental Protection Agency to assure that the motor vehicle safety standard is consistent with existing noise requirements overseen by the Agency;
(2) consult consumer groups representing individuals who are blind;
(3) consult with automobile manufacturers and professional organizations representing them;
(4) consult technical standardization organizations responsible for measurement methods such as the Society of Automotive Engineers, the International Organization for Standardization, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations.
Onto our conversation with Brian Bushway:
"I have not any personal problems, and I'm out there traveling around moreso than anybody. If you're looking and paying attention to quiet cars, it's just another thing you're looking for."
"The concern is that blind people are going to be taken out by cars, but this is better for sighted people too because sighted people aren't paying attention to the world around them (as trained blind people are). I've heard stories of elderly sighted people being run over by their mate. I haven't heard any stories of blind people being run over by silent cars, but I bet more sighted people are being hit by cars than blind people simply because of the population difference."
"If all the cars were electric and quiet, then it would change the dynamic of the road in general. You would get used to the change and adapt to what you should be listening for. It's the difference from the norm that's the problem. But really, it would be better for everyone if all the cars were quieter."
Re: Senate Approves Noisemaker Law For Hybrids / EVs
What about the blind folks who are also deaf, or near deaf? Wonder what they will come up with for that.
My father is legally blind but he gets around still. He knows enough to stop before crossing a road and uses his red-tipped cane to try to alert drivers that he is blind and trying to cross. Silent, or very quiet cars aren't the problem.....texting drivers, people going too fast, and morons in general are a much bigger danger to the blind community.
I can't wait to hear what the noisemaker will sound like. Hopefully it will be less annoying than the bird-chirp sound they have installed at all the pedestrian traffic signals in some towns around here. That sound would make me crazy in no time.
Re: Senate Approves Noisemaker Law For Hybrids / EVs
I was wondering how long this kind of issue would take to surface...
A close friend speaks of our FEH when in the electric mode as "the stealth mode."
Years ago (we're talking the 20s & 30s) and after some bad experience the Milwaukee Road (formerly a mainline railroad), which had extensive electrified mainline, installed bells that rang continuously since they could not be heard for the same reason. (Must have drove the engineers crazy...)
I've learned to be particularly careful when in the electric mode to ensure I was watching for people, animals, etc, that couldn't tell if I was there.
So, History repeats itself...
...And we learn that even in the green world nothing comes for free. Imagine if we end up where the Milwaukee Road did and end up having to install bells that ring continuously when on the battery! Won't that liven up our neighborhoods!
Last edited by Bill Winney; 12-30-2010 at 10:02 AM.