[nfb-talk] U.S. Senators John Kerry and Arlen Specter Introduce Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act

John G. Heim jheim at math.wisc.edu
Mon Apr 27 00:37:58 UTC 2009

I used to think this quiet car stuff was non-sense. I have two friends with 
hybred cars. On their first day with the car, each of them pulled up in 
front of me to pick me up and each time I was surprised by how much noise 
their ccars made. In fact, each time I wasn't sure it was them. There 
clearly was a car there, I could hear the tires on the pavement. I guess I 
couldn't hear the engine but it didn't strike me as unusual. I think 
gasoline engines are far quieter than people realise. Anyway, my friends 
pulled up in front of me in their hybred cars running on the electric motor 
and said, "How about that? pretty quiet, huh?" And I just agreed, "Um, yeah. 
Sure." I didn't want to burst their bubble but there is no way anyone could 
fail to hear their cars coming.

But recently, I was crossing a fairly busy street. Kind of a typical 
suburban feeder route. This is a street that a lot of the other residential 
streets feed into. Neighborhoods are designed that way these days. As I 
crossed the street, I was shocked to realize that I'd stepped in front of a 
car. The car had slowed to make a right turn and I'd stepped in front of it. 
When it zoomed past behind me, I heard the tires but never heard the engine 
and realized that it was probably a hybred. I'm not sure what conditions had 
made it possible for me to miss that car. Wind, other noiser cars, etcetera. 
Probably the worst of it was that I'd ordered my guide dog to go forward 
against his better judgement. And I can't imagine what the driver thought.

So, yeah, we need this legislation. Even the ultimate skeptic concurs.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Freeh,Jessica (by way of David Andrews <dandrews at visi.com>)" 
<JFreeh at nfb.org>
To: <david.andrews at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 12:17 PM
Subject: [nfb-talk] U.S. Senators John Kerry and Arlen Specter Introduce 
Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act



Chris 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. Senators John Kerry and Arlen Specter
Introduce Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act

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

Washington, DC (April 22, 2009): Senators John
Kerry (D-MA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced
a bill, S. 841, 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.

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
Senators Kerry and Specter 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."

"I'm a major proponent of hybrid vehicles--I own
one, I drive one, and I've seen firsthand their
environmental and economic benefits," said
Senator Kerry.  "The market is demanding new
technologies in the auto industry, and Americans
are demanding we finally kick our foreign oil
addiction.  As we continue to promote our energy
independence, however, we must do more to ensure
the safety of those who use senses other than
sight to navigate the roads.  I look forward to
working with Secretary LaHood to ensure that
hybrid vehicles are safe for everyone."

"Blind people have the same right to safe travel
as all other pedestrians," said Senator
Specter.  "I look forward to working with my
colleagues on this important legislation to
ensure that the blind and other pedestrians can
continue to travel safely and independently."


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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