Sunday, April 13

Another hybrid article

Greetings. Below is another article on hybrid cars, this time from Phoenix, AZ. Enjoy, and as always, please excuse any formatting errors. Also, you might participate in the pole link toward the end of this article.

Lawmaker calls quiet hybrids peril to the blind
By Daniel Scarpinato
Arizona daily star, Feb. 25, 2008

PHOENIX - If you live near a busy street, you probably like the sound of
cars getting quieter. But one state lawmaker, alarmed that hybrid cars
getting too quiet, is seeking to actually make them noisier.

The concern is centered on the danger quiet hybrids could pose to the
- with their technology so good at muting sound that they have become
unnoticeable to the ear.

"Hybrid cars are amazing, and I think one of the unintended consequences
this new technology is that it is so effective in reducing noise on the
streets, the fear is that our blind citizens are in danger crossing the
road," says
state Rep. Ed Ableser, D-Tempe, who is pushing a bill in the Legislature
require hybrids to make more noise. "If you drive a hybrid, you're not
to want someone who is listening to cars stepping out into the road in
of your hybrid."

Ableser's bill, which has been cleared by a House committee, requires
Arizona Department of Transportation to adopt a "minimum sound standard"
vehicles sold and registered in the state.

Common hybrids run 15 to 25 decibels more quietly than traditional
combustion engines, so Ableser's bill would require the hybrids to emit
artificial sound similar to a traditional engine. It also would be
retroactive - applying to those who already own the vehicles.

The technology doesn't yet exist because no manufacturer has implemented
standards, but the National Federation of the Blind is also pushing the
legislation in Virginia, Maryland and Hawaii. The organization says it
doesn't know if anyone blind has been hit by a hybrid for this reason,
it is a looming concern.

"We know that there have been a lot of close calls," said spokesman
Danielsen. "We would like action to be taken before there's actually an
injury, or heaven forbid, a death from this."

But with the state having spent $250 million on rubberized roadways to
traffic quieter, some see the move as counterintuitive and unnecessary.

"I can't imagine a blind person thinking I don't hear anything so I am
to just step out in the middle of the freeway," said state Rep. Mark
Anderson, R-Mesa. "It's a big gamble just to step out there."

But Danielsen, himself blind, says that argument is "based on ignorance"
assumes blind people should just stay at home and not leave the house.

Advocates also have argued that the bill could protect children and

Dan Taylor, a local cyclist, says he can see both sides, but he doesn't
noisier cars as making things any safer for him and his friends.

"If you're in harm's way of a car, you're probably doing something
said Taylor, a licensed acupuncturist. "Once you hear a car coming, it's
usually too close anyway."

There also are concerns from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
the bill could deter people from purchasing hybrids - particularly if
state had individual laws. Ableser said the hybrids industry will
either way.

"What this is doing is trying to encourage the automotive industry to
implement this mechanism," Ableser said. "I can't see anyone purchasing
regular car because all of a sudden hybrids now make a slight noise.

"People buy hybrids because they want to contribute to the conservation
our environment," he said.

On StarNet: Should the state legislature pass the law requiring hybrid cars to emit more noise? Participate in a poll at

● Contact reporter Daniel Scarpinato at 307-4339 or

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