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Gov't may add noise-making device to quiet hybrid cars for safety

27 Comments

Japan's near-silent hybrid cars have been called dangerous by the vision-impaired and some users, prompting a government review on whether to add a noise-making device, according to an official.

The petrol-electric vehicles, which in recent months have become the country's top-selling autos, hum along almost soundlessly when they are switched from fuel to battery mode.

"We have received opinions from automobile users and vision-impaired people that they feel hybrid vehicles are dangerous," a transport ministry official said.

"Blind people depend on sounds when they walk, but there are no engine sounds from hybrid vehicles when running at low speed" and on the electric motor, he said.

The ministry has launched a panel of scholars, vision-impaired groups, consumers, police and the automobile industry to discuss the matter.

"They decided to consider introducing a sound-making function" in petrol-electric hybrids when the 13-member panel held its first meeting Thursday, the official said.

They have not decided on what kind of sound should be used, only that it should induce a response of caution, he said.

"On the other hand, we should pay attention to residents along roads as hybrids are excellent in reducing noise," the official added.

The panel is expected to draw up a report by the end of the year. Its proposal will be discussed at the ministry's committee on automobile safety before it could be drafted into legislation.

Toyota Motor launched the world's most popular hybrid, the Prius, in 1997.

A cheaper, revamped Prius, rolled out in Japan in late May, has been a huge hit, drawing orders for 200,000 units, according to Toyota. It recently became the best-selling car in Japan's domestic market.

© Wire reports

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

27 Comments
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PLEASE NO, I freaking hate the "be bo be bo I'm turning" noise that trucks make it drivers me crazy.

Improve the conditions for the blind don't make 99% of other people suffer unneeded noise!

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As a cyclist I have to say some sound would be good. You simply can't rely on your eyes only.

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Actually - I do find this an issue. I have pretty good spatial hearing however a hybrid rolling up behind you is basically inaudible over Tokyo's noise...

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So.... I suggest poker cards, clamped by wood clothes-line pins, clacking against wire-spoke wheels. Worked for me when I was 6. I had a "Harley" bicycle.

But seriously. Hybrids are dangerous, this is new technology and there will be growing pains. Bosozoku under the hood would be great, if a bit much.

Damn I hate bosozoku. :( I want to sleep.

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If it does happen people can just use iTunes or tones like cellphone rings. Knight Rider themes will take over, or just the low jet engine hum?

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why not add them to bicycles, scooters, old people...? anything could take a blind person down.. dogs too. Cars while turning make no/little noise so would injure someone just as likely. Thus this is some kind of logically fart. Cars take out cyclists everyday of the week and that's sighted people. The real problem is cars, not sighted or blind.

Let's not be afraid of silence. Easier and cheaper to equip a blind person with a metal detector or even a GPS, or some other tech, than spend on every electric car to return the roads to noise.

also sighted people will have to look where their going. That's actually not a bad thing.

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"what an absolute joke... that is possibly the stupidest idea Ive heard from J-land in a long while.."

maybe, but alot of other news sources around the world report this as a good idea.

in some places the mantra for children crossing a road safely is stop, look, LISTEN.

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I hope they will do something against the loud mufflers too.

nandakandamanda: if you are visually impaired lights on or not might not changed much...

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just blast the Knight Rider theme

THIS. that would be the best & most awesome solution ;P

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Walking with a friend across a car park or parking lot the other day and a car suddenly moved out of its slot right behind me. Never heard the engine, but the slight crunch of the tires on the tarmac and I jumped a mile thinking a car was rolling forward with no handbrake, or the driver was out to get me! Felt like an idiot, until I realized it was a Prius. Definitely a problem for situations where we subconsciously or consciously rely only on our ears/hearing.

The best solution may be to provide a gentle fake engine note to fit in with the patterns of regular non-hybrid vehicles. Some Scandinavian cars have their lights on permanently in the name of safety, so why should the Prius not do something like this?

It is funny that this becomes necessary, but not stupid, IMHO.

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I vote for a combination of all Altria's suggestions.

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Actually forget that, just blast the Knight Rider theme.

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How about "EVERYONE LOOK AT ME! I DRIVE A PRIUS! VOTE OBAMA!" on loop.

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Realist beat me to it.

I was thinking strap a bosozoku to the front, then eveyone can hear you coming.

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Why dont the government discuss their ideas with the bosozoku gangs. They know plenty about making noise-making.

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what an absolute joke... that is possibly the stupidest idea Ive heard from J-land in a long while..

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This is silly! How about a bicycle bell sound or a ducks quacking!?

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Do not tell me they will add some of that funny baby music they use at department stores and supermarkets.

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If I were I hitman I'd cruise around town in a Prius.

Reducing CO2 emissions in more ways than one!

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There are so many hilarious ideas for a noise-making device. I'm trying not to laugh out loud and disturb my co-workers. "abunai! abunai!" at 90dB gets my vote! :-D

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This sounds like a bit of a joke, however, especially when there is a wind blowing, it can be rather difficult to hear these hybrid cars.

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Just string a few tin cans on the back.

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that's what i like about my car. Modified exhaust (center pipe and rear piece) make enough noise for people to get the heck out of the way. I consider my car a lot safer than that slow prius. Really good responsive handling helps too, Prius doesn't have that either.

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"But if its only the blind people they care about the should use new technologies like gps or other radio signals to warn a mobile divice that's carried arround by those people."

...these cars will be sold outside Japan!

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it should say "abunai" in an endless repeat at at least 90db :)

The Hyprid cars are not much quiter than usual gasoline cars at those speeds. especially when approaching a crossroad and deaccelerating. (ok most of them usally don't slow down) The Problem should be the higher speeds like the common 70 in the cities when the real elecronic cars are released.

But if its only the blind people they care about the should use new technologies like gps or other radio signals to warn a mobile divice that's carried arround by those people.

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Please, not a recorded message. "Be careful, there is a silent car approaching. (Short pause.) Be careful, there is a silent car approaching, (Short pause followed by endless repeats.)"

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Finally, we get to deal without the noise of an engine, making for dreams of quieter days, and some people have to ruin it? I'm sure whatever sound they decide on it's going to be annoying. Why can't those with good eyes use their eyes? And if the visually impaired can't hear them maybe they can be given special quiet car sensors. Somebody should invent one, or at least invent some kind of motion sensor for the blind, anyway. I mean besides the granny bicycles, how do they hear the quiet ones?

So I guess the myth of better hearing is just that, a myth. I mean, no car is truly "silent".

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