I reported here last week about the danger to pedestrians from "quiet" hybrid and electric cars. Now, advocates for the blind and car makers have reached an agreement to impose minimum noise levels on the future manufacture of electric cars. The agreement was reached, both sides agreed, because the current hybrid and electric cars pose a greater risk of danger to those that are visually impaired, as well as bikers, runners, and other pedestrians. A study conducted last year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that hybrid cars were more likely to hit pedestrians than other cars where the approaching car cannot be seen. Recent studies conducted by UC Riverside came to similar conclusions.
The proposed agreement would become law as part of the Motor Safety Act of 2010, which is currently pending in Congress. The law would require the NHTSA to determine safety noise standards to avoid car pedestrian collisions. It is also anticipated that the noise requirement would include different sounds for different conditions. I.e. the sounds would communicate something about the cars rate of speed and location.
Runners, bikers, and pedestrians everywhere, visually impaired or not, should welcome these changes which should lessen the risk of auto pedestrian collisions.