Who comes first? Gaia or the gimps? America’s National Federation of the Blind is warning that hybrid cars can be dangerous to the blind, children and elderly pedestrians. Why? Hybrids are much quieter than their conventional counterparts, so silent that the NFB says that they can be difficult to hear coming down the street.

“We had [a hybrid] drive by in different situations, to see whether or not people could hear it and use the sound of the car to safely cross the street, and they could not. The car was just silent,” NFB spokesman John Pare says. And there’s much, much more on the Federation’s blog:

Sev MacPete, founder of the Toyota Prius Club of San Diego, dismisses the idea that hybrids pose a safety threat… “If you could say anything about hybrid drivers, they are more aware of their surroundings than other drivers,” Mr MacPete says…

We doubt that Mr MacPete’s generalisations about hybrid drivers are any more true than they are about automobile operators in general…

If the cavalier attitudes of the San Diego Prius club… are any indication, it looks as though the National Federation of the Blind will need to advocate for state and federal laws or regulations requiring these vehicles to make some sort of sound; and since the automobile industry is notoriously resistant to regulation, we need to prepare ourselves for an aggressive and extended campaign.

Hybrid drivers, stop being so smug. You’re going to get some stick. White stick.

Peter Fray

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