There’s been some noise, ahem, lately about regulations to add soundmakers to hybrid cars. You know, so they’d be safer around pedestrians — especially those of us with visual impairments.
I don’t get it.
Maybe it’s because I live in a big city. I walk around a lot with my Seeing Eye dog Whitney. There’s so much traffic here that It’s not likely we’ve ever been at an intersection where one silent hybrid car was sitting alone waiting for a light. If that has happened, we didn’t know it, and it didn’t matter. We still got across the street safely.
People who are blind don’t use the sound of idling cars to determine when to cross a street. We listen for the traffic moving at our parallel to know when to cross. The tires on hybrid cars make noise when they move, so we hear them along with the rush of other cars at our parallel, and that noise tells us it’s probably safe to cross.
I don’t cross a street the minute the light turns green. I wait until traffic starts going my way – the cars stopped in front of us can’t be moving if all that traffic is rushing by in front of them. I give Whitney a command. “Whitney, Forward!” Whitney looks to make sure no one is making a fast turn and that it’s safe, and then she leads me across.
A Chicago benefactor – he doesn’t want to disclose his name– donated a hybrid car to the Seeing Eye School back when I was training with Harper. The donation helped the Seeing Eye figure out a dog’s reaction to the car’s silence, and exposed students like me to what a hybrid does — and does not — sound like.
This morning my brother-in-law Rick Amodt sent me a link to a story from AOL Tech about the European Parliament’s decision to back a proposal that would “require sound-making hardware in new electric vehicles by July 2019.” I must be missing something. Is this really necessary?