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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Media beat-up: Silent hybrid cars

This story does the rounds every 6 months or so. The BBC, the Telegraph and various other anti-hybrid media report that Japan is considering the introduction of noise-making devices for near-silent hybrid cars following safety fears from vision-impaired pedestrians.

"Vision-impaired people feel that hybrid vehicles are dangerous", a transport ministry official told AFP. The top-selling hybrid vehicles run almost without any sound when they change from fuel to battery mode.

The ministry of transport has brought together a panel that will draw up a report by the end of the year. The panel is considering forcing manufacturers of hybrid cars to introduce a sound-making function that alerts passersby to the presence of a vehicle.

"Blind people depend on sounds when they walk, but there are no engine sounds from hybrid vehicles when running at low speed," the transport ministry official said.

The world's most popular hybrid, the Prius, was launched by Toyota in 1997.

Paul Nolasco, a spokesman for Toyota Motor in Tokyo, told the BBC it had no immediate plans to add noise-making devices to the hybrid vehicles. "But if it becomes a social concern, it is something we will have to address", Mr Nolasco added.

Political BS

Despite the fact the Prius has a top speed of only 34 Mph in EV mode, Toyota saying they have no plans to install these devices and the transport ministry only saying they plan to 'study' the problem (to placate a politically noisy minority group), the mainstream media always over dramatise this into the imminent introduction of rediculous noise making devices on anything powered by electricity.

The same media never include any mention of the fact that most vehicle noise is made by the tires not the engine or the fact that blind people don't actually walk down the middle of the road.

They also conveniently fail to mention the kind of negative impact having a siren on hybrids would have on hybrid sales. All these 'media reports' sound like they're calling for laws that resemble the Locomotives Act of 1865 which required any motorized vehicle to be preceded by a man with a red flag.

A more realistic proposal would be a law requiring all Vision-impaired people to wear day-glow safety vests when walking near roads, exactly like out-door workers, including Police, are required to do by current occupational health and safety laws.

If vision-impaired pedestrians are required to wear safety vests they can easily be identified by road users if they jaywalk, so drivers can simple use the universal noise making device already installed in ALL road vehciles, and sound their horn.

PROBLEM SOLVED at minimal expense and zero inconvenience to the majority of those affected!

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not yet considered itself, the natural evolution of other senses in impaired people.
It is natural that a visually impaired person listen better.
Another aspect to consider is that there will never be a sound high enough to make listen, a person with impaired auditive.
Therefore, if the advanced electric cars must be transformed in a noisy and flashy circus vehicle, we will have to go back to 1890, and hire a guide that will walk in front of these cars with a loud golden bell or a trumpet, or both...

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