Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2008

Perhaps the tide could be turning in the age old debate of "loud pipes save lives". Earlier this month, with little media attent...

Perhaps the tide could be turning in the age old debate of "loud pipes save lives".

Earlier this month, with little media attention, legislators in the House of Representatives introduce a bill, HR5734, know as the "Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2008", which will require hybrid and electric cars to be more louder.

The bill, sponsored by Edolphus Towns (D-NY), and co-sponsored by 12 other representatives, says that such vehicles are so quiet, that they pose a risk to the blind, perhaps suggesting that the green energy cars heralded by environmentalists and big-oil protestors, may actually be silent killers.

According to the bill's text, it will require the Secretary of Transportation, to conduct a study to determine the most practical means of alerting blind persons of the presence of a hybrid or electric car, by providing similar audible information that one might receive from a combustion engine car.

And then once the study is complete, actually implement a regulation that will require all such vehicles to have this noise-making device installed.

The impetus for this bill appears to have come from a study conducted by the University of California, Riverside, under the direction of Lawrence Rosenblum, a professor of psychology. He made audio recordings of hybrid and electric cars, as well as combustion engine cars, and played them back to people and had them determine from which direction these cars were coming from. He found that folks could make these judgments sooner when listening to the combustion engine cars.

Rosemblum went on to say...
"There is a real difference between the audibility of hybrid vehicles and those with traditional internal combustion engines that could have effects on the safety of pedestrians which need to be studied. Our preliminary findings could mean that there is an added danger with hybrid cars, particularly at intersections and in parking lots."
The UCR study, which was funded by the National Federation of the Blind, concluded that when hybrid and electric vehicles are running at slow speeds, such as in congested city traffic, or in parking lots, they are able to creep up on all pedestrians by as much as 40% closer than combustion engine cars.

As a motorcyclist, I'm left wondering why it is that the needs of the blind were not considered when state and local governments chose to get tough on loud pipes. Not just blind persons either, but it seems like the hard-of-hearing could be saved from injury if they could hear a motorcycle coming.

Apparently, several US representatives found it necessary to take action to spare the lives of blind persons against the deadly wrath of the hybrid car. Perhaps ABATE can now benefit from the same UCR study in combating police decibel meters.

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