[New-hampshire-students] Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act Introduced

Freeh, Jessica JFreeh at nfb.org
Wed Jan 28 18:53:38 UTC 2009



Christopher S. Danielsen

Director of Public Relations

National Federation of the Blind

(410) 659-9314, extension 2330

(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

<mailto:cdanielsen at nfb.org>cdanielsen at nfb.org

U.S. Representatives Edolphus Towns and Cliff Stearns
Introduce Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act

National Federation of the Blind Applauds Measure
  to Protect Lives and Preserve Independence of Blind Americans

Washington, DC (January 28, 2009):  Representatives Edolphus "Ed" 
Towns (D-NY) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) today introduced H.R. 734, a 
bill intended to protect the blind and other pedestrians from injury 
or death as a result of silent vehicle technology.  The Pedestrian 
Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 requires the Secretary of 
Transportation to conduct a study on how to protect the blind and 
others from being injured or killed by vehicles using hybrid, 
electric, and other silent engine technologies.  Thirty-two original 
co-sponsors have already signed on to the bill.

Because blind pedestrians cannot locate and evaluate traffic using 
their vision, they must listen to traffic to discern its speed, 
direction, and other attributes in order to travel safely and 
independently.  Other people, including pedestrians who are not 
blind, bicyclists, runners, and small children, also benefit from 
hearing the sound of vehicle engines.  New vehicles that employ 
hybrid or electric engine technology can be silent, rendering them 
extremely dangerous in situations where vehicles and pedestrians come 
into proximity with each other.

"The National Federation of the Blind appreciates the wise and 
decisive action taken today by Congressmen Towns and Stearns to 
preserve the right to safe and independent travel for the blind," 
said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the 
Blind.  "The blind, like all pedestrians, must be able to travel to 
work, to school, to church, and to other places in our communities 
without being injured or killed.  This bill will benefit all 
pedestrians for generations to come as new vehicle technologies 
become more prevalent.  The blind of America will do everything in 
our power to ensure its swift passage."

  "The beneficial trend toward more environmentally friendly vehicles 
has had the unintended effect of placing the blind and other 
pedestrians in danger," said Representative Towns.  "As someone who 
taught travel with a white cane to the blind for many years, I 
understand that the sound of traffic is critically important in order 
for them to travel safely and independently.  This bill will prevent 
many injuries and fatalities while still allowing more clean vehicles 
on our nation's roads."

"I understand the safety concerns of blind pedestrians with these 
quiet automobiles; I have heard the same concerns from senior 
citizens in my district, and I appreciate the threat to children, 
bicyclists, and runners," said Representative Stearns.  "I deeply 
appreciate the support of all parties in supporting this important 
safety legislation."

The bill requires the Secretary of Transportation, within ninety days 
of its enactment, to commence a two-year study to determine the best 
means to provide the blind and other pedestrians with information 
about the location, motion, speed, and direction of vehicles.  Upon 
completion of the study, the Secretary will report the findings of 
the study to Congress and, within ninety days, establish a minimum 
vehicle safety standard for all new vehicles sold in the United 
States.  Automobile manufacturers will have two years to comply with 
the vehicle safety standard.


About the National Federation of the Blind

With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind 
is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind 
people in the United States.  The NFB improves blind people's lives 
through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs 
encouraging independence and self-confidence.  It is the leading 
force in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation's 
blind.  In January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of the 
Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in 
the United States for the blind led by the blind.

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