Blind Want Prius to Make Noise



Hybrids are known for fuel efficiency, but like electric vehicles, can operate quietly on batteries alone. And that has an advocacy group for the blind worried about the potential accidents that hybrids like the Prius could cause with blind pedestrians.

The Wall Street Journal reports that hybrids, which can be “quieter than a vacuum cleaner,” are the target of the National Federation of the Blind, which is pressing the automotive industry to make hybrids emit a noise while turned on – a noise, the Journal reports, should be louder than other ambient noise.


With the increasing popularity of hybrids, the lack of operating noise in some circumstances could be a growing problem. Hybrids are a small fraction of the vehicle fleet at fewer than 400,000 registered on U.S. roads, but are being touted by Toyota and other companies as a medium-term solution to fuel economy and oil use.


The NFB has been toying with a few solutions, the Journal says, including sensors that would alert blind pedestrians when a hybrid is near, or a device that would make noise when the vehicle’s axles rotated.


Pedestrian deaths totaled 4881 in 2005, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, up two percent since 2000.


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