One of the beauties of a battery-powered, electronically-controlled hybrid vehicle is that it’s quiet…right?
Well, maybe not. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB117133115592406662-4gKiXEZVH0RXATvUvpkVpLUsbx8_20080213.html?mod=tff_main_tff_top) raises an important point about that lack of noise. Blind pedestrians, it says, can’t hear hybrids approaching because those vehicles are typically so quiet. That’s why the National Federation for the Blind (NFB) is calling on the auto industry to make hybrids emit more noise. An NFB committee has suggested that automakers build a device into axles that makes noise as the wheels rotate.
To be sure, no one has displayed any statistics proving that pedestrian accidents are on the upswing as a result of more hybrids on the road. But automakers are likely to take the matter seriously. And if they do, they may have to deal with a parallel issue: A growing number of pedestrians, joggers, and cyclists can’t hear quiet vehicles because they wear headphones and listen to music while they travel.
Undoubtedly, automakers want their vehicles to be safe. The question is: How loud is loud enough?