Friday, March 13, 2009

Quiet cars may need alert for pedestrians

Article by Tom Greenwood in Detroit News on 17 February 2009

The National Federation for the Blind is concerned that electric and hybrid cars are so quiet the blind and visually impaired could be killed or seriously injured by walking unknowingly in front of them.

Tom agrees and tells a story from the recent North American International Auto Show where he was investigating "green" technology. He says "Believe me when I say they were absolutely silent; my vision and hearing are fine, but I found myself looking over my shoulder to see if a vehicle was creeping up on me."

The NFB is advocating for quiet vehicles to be equipped to emit a continuous sound and wants additional research on the problem.

Scientists from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society tested a number of visually impaired individuals and asked them which of six types of sounds -- engine, horn, hum, siren, whistle and white noise -- they preferred as warnings.

By far the most preferred sound was that of an automobile engine, followed by white noise and hum.

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