Electric and Hybrid cars and Blind and Visually impaired People

Nearly silent electric or hybrid cars ‘are a risk to pedestrians’: Walkers 40% more likely to be involved in accidents. There Was a 54 per cent jump in accidents involving the cars from 2012 to 2013. Visually impaired ,blind and even those who use Guide Dogs are among the worst affected. There should be compulsory noise generators on electric cars. So those who are blind or visually impaired are able to hear the vehicle. Green electric-powered cars are much more dangerous to pedestrians than traditional vehicles with petrol engines.

Did you know that walkers are 40 per cent more likely to be run over by a quiet hybrid or electric car than by one with a petrol or diesel engine. And as the number of green vehicles grows because of Government tax breaks for eco-friendly cars, the number of injuries they cause has been rising fast. There is a 54 per cent increase in pedestrian injuries in accidents involving quiet cars between 2012 and 2013. Guide dog owners and their animals are particularly at risk from vehicles that they cannot hear coming. They should make noise generating systems compulsory on all hybrids. Quiet vehicles put pedestrians at risk outside schools, in residential areas and in our towns and cities. Specially those who use their ears much like other people use their eyes
Car makers should ‘do the right thing and fit sound generating systems to quiet vehicles before it becomes compulsory. Also insist that noise-making equipment is not only fitted to a car but always switched on. Those who are blind or visually impaired rely on being able to hear cars to judge when it is safe to cross the road. ‘It is terrifying to cross when you are unable to hear quiet hybrid and electric vehicles. Ensuring all quiet vehicles have sound generating systems installed and switched on would ensure that millions of people, like me, who are living with sight loss, would be protected from the growing safety hazard.
 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed a new rule requiring hybrid and electric cars to make sounds to alert pedestrians, in particular the blind and visually impaired. Hybrids and electric cars don’t rely on an internal combustion engine while driving at low speeds, so they are harder for the blind to detect. The rule would require that hybrids and electric cars traveling under 18 miles per hour would need to emit sounds that are detectable under a wide range of noises and sounds heard on the street. According to NHTSA, vehicles traveling above 18 miles per hour make enough noise to be heard by pedestrians and bicyclists. “Safety is our highest priority, and this proposal will help keep everyone using our nation’s streets and roadways safe, whether they are motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians, and especially the blind and visually impaired,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Automakers would be required to install sound emitting devices into their hybrid and electric vehicle fleets, but NHTSA says that they would have flexibility when deciding which sound their vehicles will emit.

Are Eltectric cars dangerous for blind people? – an interactive video from Guide Dogs? Watch or listen to this video and decide for yourself.

Electric vehicle warning sounds are a series of sounds designed to alert pedestrians to the presence of electric drive vehicles such as hybrid electric vehicles HEVs, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles PHEVs, and all-electric vehicles EVs travelling at low speeds. Warning sound devices were deemed necessary because vehicles operating in all-electric mode produce less noise than traditional combustion engine vehicles and can make it more difficult for pedestrians, the blind, cyclists, and others, to be aware of their presence. Warning sounds may be driver triggered (as in a horn but less urgent) or automaticity at low speeds; in type, they vary from clearly artificial (beeps, chimes) to those that mimic engine sounds and those of tires moving over gravel. Japan issued guidelines for such warning devices in January 2010 and the U.S. approved legislation on December 2010. The European Parliament approved legislation that requires the mandatory use of “Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems” for all new electric and hybrid electric vehicles within 5 years. Several automakers have developed electric warning sound devices, and since December 2011 advanced technology cars available in the market with manually activated electric warning sounds include the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt,Honda FCX Clarity, Nissan Fuga Hybrid/Infiniti M35, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, and the Toyota Prius (Japan only).Models equipped with automatically activated systems include the 2012 model yearToyota Camry Hybrid, 2012 Lexus CT200h, all EV versions of the Honda Fit, and allPrius family cars recently introduced in the United States, including the standard 2012 model year Prius, the Toyota Prius v, Prius cand the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid. The 2013 Smart electric drive comes with automatically activated sounds in the U.S. and Japan and manually activated in Europe.Tesla Motors, Volkswagen andBMW are not including warning sounds in their electric drive vehicles, as all of them decided to add artificial sounds only when required by regulation.

GM Teams With National Federation for the Blind to Develop Safe Sound Alert For Electric Vehicles.  GM has created a special pedestrian alert signal for the Chevy Volt. ”It is an active system,” says Chief engineer Andrew Farah, meaning the driver must activate it. Passive systems produce a sound at all times. The Volt pedestrian alert sound is a light volume horn-like sound similar to the chirp of some cars keyless entry indicators. ”It has to be automotive,” says Farah referring to the quality of the tone. To read the rest of the article go to  GM Teams With National Federation for the Blind to Develop Safe Sound Alert For Electric Vehicles.

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