…and put bells on their horses!

I just heard on the news and confirmed it here that someone is proposing deliberately making hybrid cars louder, so that people can hear them coming.

So, while we are lowering pollution from hydrocarbons by using a hybrid car, we are supposed to raise noise levels? I’m sure they don’t want it to be deafening, but still, noise is noise and unnecessary noise is unnecessary.

I’m not a tree-hugger and I think a lot of the hype over hybrid cars is just hype. But the idea that 2000 pounds of glass, metal and rubber rolling down the road could sneak up on anyone who isn’t deaf, is silly. In many years of road cycling, I know first hand that you can hear a car coming long before you hear it’s engine. The sound of rubber on asphalt is unmistakable.

I’m sympathetic to the blind, but isn’t their hearing supposed to become better to compensate? I think the idea of making all hybrid cars louder to benefit a few, even though handicapped, is wrong. Surely it’s more a matter of the expectation of a car being noisy that is the problem. Learn and adapt to the idea that some cars might not make a lot of noise. Why, I’ve heard some luxury cars with conventional internal combustion engines that are so quiet that you don’t notice them, so it’s nothing new.

This will get a lot of knee-jerk sympathy because an organization for the blind is championing it, but no matter who gets behind it, making a car louder for the sake of making it louder, is just wrong.

Posted in Rants, Tech Stuff
2 comments on “…and put bells on their horses!
  1. Oh and speaking of quiet vehicles and cycling, there isn’t much quieter than a bicycle. I’ve seen and experienced first-hand wildlife being startled by bicycles that come upon them so quickly and quietly that they are surprised.

    I’ve been within 10 feet of grazing deer on the side of the road before they bolted away and remember a flock of wild turkeys scurrying away and taking wing as I went by.

    Should we worry about blind people being hit by bicycles because they can’t hear them coming? Somehow we’ve survived this long without is becoming an issue. We can with hybrid cars too.

  2. jack fate says:

    You have a point, assuming that the hybrid car is the only one on the road. But at the corner of a city intersection with many cars coming and going, it’s a different story. Blind people rely not only on the sound of the wheels (all but irrelevant at an intersection full of cars), but also on the doppler effect of the hum of the engine to judge where the vehicle is and which way it is going. The two people I know who are blind can share stories about almost being taken out by hybrid cars. Above the normal din of city traffic, there is no way to isolate the sound of the tires on the road.

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