I am an environmentally conscious person. I Recycle, Reuse and Reduce…the  three R’s rule my world.  Noise pollution? I’m right there complaining about the excess racket in our world.  Concerts and movies are not part of my scene. I want, and need to keep my hearing intact.  However, when it comes to the topic of hybrid cars (you know…the little fuel-efficient, vehicles that whisper as they run), I have a BIG PROBLEM. Actually, anyone who is blind or partially-sighted takes issue with these cars. Imagine: You are at the corner of a busy city intersection. Your goal is to cross the street safely. Maybe you use a white cane, or perhaps a guide dog is by your side. No matter. Your challenge is to know when the flow of traffic is moving in the same direction as you are.   There are the occasional audible pedestrian signal to assist you in making the decision, but there are not at every street corner. In fact, in most cities they are few and far between.   Your guide dog, if you have one, can’t decide for you.  Ideally, the dog will stop you if you make a bad choice, ie. you say “forward” when a car is coming (Intelligent Disobedience).  But they can not realistically be expected to see and hear everything at all times.  So, you do the best you can, and make a choice to navigate across the intersection.  WHOOSH!!!! A hybrid car runs you down, in all it’s environmentally appropriate, and EXTREMELY QUIET glory.  Do people who are blind or partially-sighted want to rid the world of hybrid vehicles? NO!!! We just want them to be required, by law, to emit sound at an adequate level, so that people who can’t SEE them, have a fair chance of HEARING them.  A minimum standard must be set for vehicle audible emissions for the automobile manufacturing industry.  Every Orientation and Mobility instructor from every organization in the world, that assists people who are blind or partially sighted, has become vocal in the struggle for such legislation.  I don’t think that sighted people realize this problem exists when they are in the showroom at the auto dealership, looking at the hybrid cars they are considering to buy.  If they did, they would say;  “gee, it’s really nice, fuel-efficient, clean and environmentally-sound, but…it’s TOO QUIET, AND THAT’S NOT SAFE!”  Buying a hybrid?  Please express my concern and walk away until that little car makes a bit of noise while operating.  You might even consider writing to the Auto Industry people about it. Thanks.


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