Wednesday, October 10, 2007, posted by Auto Rider at 7:50 PM



Despite the hybrid vehicles being the new symbol for environmental friendly and fuel efficient vehicles, these are not literally seen by the blind. For blind people, because hybrids are quieter when they are on lower speeds when using electric power, it entails danger for them who merely rely on sounds of approaching vehicles when they are walking across the pedestrian lanes and at parking lots.
"I'm used to being able to get sound cues from my environment and negotiate accordingly. I hadn't imagined there was anything I really wouldn't be able to hear," said Deborah Kent Stein, chairwoman of the National Federation of the Blind's Committee on Automotive and Pedestrian Safety.

"We did a test, and I discovered, to my great dismay, that I couldn't hear it." she added.

There had been notably increasing demand for hybrid vehicles to go with increasing concerns for harmful emissions from the average vehicles. According to the company, the Toyota Prius remains to be the best-selling hybrid vehicle selling 460,000 units since its introduction on the year 2000. Aside from the Prius, the Japanese automaker also launched several hybrid versions of the Camry and other Lexus models.

According to Mike Camissa, the safety director for the manufacturer’s association, the group is working on “the possibility of setting a minimum noise level standard for hybrid vehicles”.

According to officials of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Highway Administration comprising the two arms of the U.S. Department of Transportation, they are also aware of the problem but have not studied it and the possible solutions.

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