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Japan studies noisier hybrid cars to protect blind

48 Comments

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48 Comments
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An interesting thing would be to have a frequency of sound that cannot be heard inside the car. Don't kill the benefit of the silence for the drivers just for the rare encounter with a blind person crossing the street.

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Or emit radio signals and give blind people free detectors which would make a sound if a car approaches.

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But an immient crash sound for the driver would probably be a good idea.

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How about cyclists, those of us who ride defensively, don't listen to music players, pick our noses, smoke or read manga while riding, all senses, including hearing traffic are vital to our safety. I've witnessed how quiet hybrids are on a couple of occasions. It's only a matter of time before the injury list and dearth toll mounts. With the ever growing number of cyclists, car makers will, in the end bow to making hybrids easy to identify by size and distance with some kind of sound generation.

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Why not install 152 decibel train horns in hybrids and obligate people to blow them if people are in the crosswalks - to ensure blind people know a hybrid is nearby?

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And when this problem is fixed....What are we gonna do about the ojisans and obasans who "can see" but ride their bicycles on the road straight at the car waiting for 'you' to move for them????

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How about drivers that are actually required pay attention to where they are going? Talk on the phone? Lose your license. Put up curtains that make you feel like you are in your living room, but impair your vision? Lose your license.

The propensity of the J-government to require as little conscious thought as possible from the population is staggering.

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x2 on danger for bike riders. I have had some near misses on the roads with hybrids sneaking up on me.

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Something definitely needs to be done - the roads near Starbucks outlets and organic supermarkets are absolute death traps for the blind.

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"How about cyclists, those of us who ride defensively, don't listen to music players, pick our noses,"

You're kidding right? Picking one's nose while riding a bicycle is one of life's great pleasures. How can you call yourself a cyclist?

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Fair enough. Actually I was talking to somebody from the guide dog association about this the other day (one of our dogs is on permanent loan from the guide dogs as part of their breeding program). In all seriousness, the guide dogs are a bit worried about how quiet some of these new hybrid/electric vehicles are. Specifically, they are worried that one of the older dogs (whose hearing might not be so acute) might commit the cardinal sin, namely unintentionally leading their owner into the path of an oncoming motor vehicle.

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no no no no no no no no no! Please don't do that, cars making a cell phone ring driving around would drive me crazy. There is a reason hybrid cars don't make a noise! If a hybrid car makes a fake noise it is noise pollution! I think the blind should be given a mini radar system something that tells them a hybrid car is coming via a small transmitter and receiver so that 99.99% of Japan don't have to go stir crazy.

I'm all for helping the blind but not at the expense of the rest of the population.

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Why not just have the cars emit a foul (environmentally friendly) odor? The blind can smell their way clear with no additional noise pollution. But seriously I don't get this "problem"... when do the blind have the need to hear if a vehicle is in their vicinity? I presume they are only on the road when crossing the street... and this would be an intersection when the light is green and the signal is ticking them to cross....

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Typical Japan: Make the life of 99% people more worse just to improve the life of 1% of people!

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Right on Dr. Jones. I am supposed to believe that this is a good idea, but it seems like de evolution to me. Darwin says that some people are not made to keep up with the others. If I ever become blind, I would hope that the wolves would take me so that I could save the herd.

Sigh.... I suppose the easiest solution is putting a little speaker on the front grill that goes vroom vroom. Or maybe they can put a playing card and a clothes pin somewhere to make that motor sound. Make them sound like normal cars. That solves the problem. It would not have to be THAT loud, and you could aim the sound to the front and forward quarter panels.

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Good to see such a supportive attitude to these measures (lol). Just hope nobody here looses their sight at sometime in the future.

With regard to the lack of noise generated by hybrid vehicles, this is a problem for society in general and not just the blind among us. Just think of how you become aware of a motor vehicle that approaches you from behind. Some of us glance over our shoulder to confirm the position of such vehicles, however, often such glancing occurs only after we have heard the vehicle approaching. With this lack of an initial warning, it will not just be the blind folks who put themselves in the way of oncoming vehicles.

Finally, I agree that ring-tones sounding all over the place would drive people crazy. Then again, something has to be done to maximize the safety of pedestrians.

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How about having the sound of a very large mosquito?

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All hybrids should blast the Knight Rider theme as they drive down the road.

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Blind people are sort of "sacred cows" in Japan. They spend a lot of money building the yellow ridges in all the sidewalks but those same ridges create uneven surfaces that result in many falls and injuries in seniors.

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And bike riders should be made to place baseball cards in the spokes of their wheels........

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and blind pedestrians should be made to wear one of those flashing yellow strobes on top of their heads to warn drivers, and bike riders, of their intention to step out into traffic.

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Many trucks are equipped with warning signals when backing up. Just a beep-beep-beep or "bakku shimasu, go-chui kudasai" over and over. How about something similar to this, emitting a sound when a nearby pedestrian is sensed "haiburiddo imasu, go-chui kudasai"? Seriously though, I drove a Prius for two and a half years and was always very careful about pedestrians. But now that I have returned to a 'conventional' vehicle I realize even more how a silent vehicle can sneak up on you. But the hybrids are not the only ones. Many cyclist have the same habit. They can see you, but you cannot see them and with impunity they speed along shopping mall streets and just about everywhere posing a bigger danger and annoyance than the hybrids. What this country should be getting serious about is building roads that are safe for pedestrians, cyclists and power driven traffic alike. In other words, separating these categories clearly. In order words stop wasting public funds on constructing money gobbling funds and local politicians pet projects and allocate it to where it benefits society as a whole.

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Don't want to sound uncaring, but what percentage of the population here is blind? I'm sure there is a percentage of people who are blind AND deaf as well. What of them? Sound-emitting hybrids aren't going to help them any right? Purposefully making vehicles which we've tried so hard to make quiet is just silly.

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Don't know what percentage of the population is blind (or has other sight problems), but I do know that there are about 30,000 people who would like to have a guide dog to help them. Unfortunately, the number of working dogs in Japan is somewhat under 10,000, of which a fair number are beyond what would be considered mandatory retirement age in other countries.

With regard to hybrid vehicles and people with poor eyesight, it is important to understand the process by which we (people with sight) sense the presence of an oncoming vehicle. Some people periodically glance over their shoulders, while others only visually confirm a vehicle once they hear it. And there in lies the problem. If you cannot hear the vehicle (because it is too quiet) and you cannot see the vehicle (because you are blind), what course of action is left? Guide dogs are one option, however, there is not a sufficient supply of top-grade dogs to equip everyone who wants one (the Japan Guide Dog Association only graduated 100 dogs last year - for the first time in its history. Other charities involved in training dogs graduate even smaller numbers). Moreover, a fair percentage of the dogs currently in harness are seniors, some showing symptoms of canine dementia (would you entrust your life to a caregiver with Alzheimer's) and/or reduced hearing. As such, the blind folks face a serious challenge in dealing with these new quieter vehicles.

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In order words stop wasting public funds on constructing money gobbling funds

Oops! Did it again. Should be "money gobbling venues". Sorry.

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good idea, because japan isn't noisy enough

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What is all this talk about "glancing over the shoulder" to confirm for oncoming vehicles? Yes Japan has many roads where no dedicated sidewalk are available... in this case you walk right along the edge... not in the middle of the road! A visually impaired or blind pedestrian would do the same. Its up to the driver to drive with caution and appropriate speed when sharing a road with pedestrians. If blind pedestrians are having to rely on engine sound in order not to get sideswiped then they are already playing a dangerous game and should either change the route they walk or find some other way to get from A to B.

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Easy solution. Make all hybrid cars have squealing breaks like most of the bikes do here.

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Hook up the election speakers to the hybrids and have them blaring everyday of the year. Or how about a microphone that blasts out the bosuzoku motorbike revv as you near any pedestrians. Sheee just what Japan needs....more deafening sounds.

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I guess this isn't something most of this forum's readers care about, until one of their children end up dead from a silent car. I've been in a Prius taxi and it's creepy how quite and fast they are. I think not only cyclists and blind people rely on sound to some extent, probably a lot of us do. I'd like to hear from presto345 about the experience of being a Prius owner and how pedestrians interacted with it. Also if there are any hearing impaired forum members.

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I'd like to hear from presto345 about the experience of being a Prius owner and how pedestrians interacted with it

As I mentioned before, I was always very careful about pedestrians. When I see someone walking in the road, whatever vehicle I drive, I always slow down, often to crawling speed. It's happened only a few times that someone seemed surprised (never angry) to see my car in close proximity. There never was a dangerous situation. That's because I was very much aware of the nature of the vehicle. Unfortunately not all drivers are equal.

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Might be just me, but I think any vehicle could endanger a person that is blind. I am certainly not in favor of blind motorists no matter how much noise the vehicle makes.

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But drivers of hybrid cars is not blind to press break if they see a blind person in front of car which is rarest of rare case. Japanese driver's rules already teaches to slow down your vehicle if they see a pedestrian on the road. so why this hue and cry !

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Japan does seem to go to a lot of lengths to protect the blind. A lot of other disabilities are swept under the carpet. Is there something in Japanese culture that favors the blind?

That asked, there is a problem with electric powered cars moving at city speeds. You can't hear them at all. So a sound making device would be interesting. But what sound? Danged if I know. But I bet it will be annoying!

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This is stupid. A lot of recent gasoline powered cars are almost as quiet as hybrids especially if they're using 'sneaker' tires that are designed to reduce tire noise.

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To be truly eco and caring about the environment, I think they could actually do it on the cheap ... and copy from weddings!! A couple of pieces of sturdy string tied to the rear fender and a few (recyclable) aluminium cans tied to other end ... now that could make enough noise!!

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I'm not blind, I am a sighted (sightful?) pedestrian and frequent bicycle rider and I am afraid of noiseless cars becoming more frequent.

They sneak up on you. That plus a drunk, or angry, or young impatient driver, or plus the pedestrian being distracted, and ... Nevermind being blind man. A ton of moving steel should make some noise.

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hey, what about the rights of blind AND deaf people??? they need to do something for them too!! haha.

okay, the idea does make some sense. I almost got run over by one of these silent hybrid cars a couple months back.

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Any electrically powered car can be given something to add some sound to it that will warn those that are part blind, to being old, or the big one will be partially DEAF.

This is was a farming town now turning over to retired people & it is so common to have people driving on the sidewalks with these four wheeled invalid vehicles. Fortunately they are not fast, & people tend to be on the outlook for them. Still take the regular roads with bicycles, to scooters, to m/cs to petrol powered car & finally almost silent electric powered cars------that can be quite different for survival to those that are walking, crossing the street to J-walking, bicycle riding & so much more.

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I have almost perfect vision and I'm scared of these things. Coming down the street the Prius sounds like KITT or those aerial hunter-killer things from the Terminator.

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Okay, how about something more than a survey or the personal opinions of 52 blind people? Before they even think about tinkering with hybrid vehicle designs they need to conduct a scientific study that demonstrates that the number of accidents involving pedestrians (blind or sighted), bicycles, etc. with vehicles has increased with the introduction/proliferation of hybrid vehicles and that the relationship is directly cause-and-effect.

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I think that they should make them loud enough that deaf people can hear them.

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This debate will come up again in 100 years, when Japan invents invisible cars.

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This is stupid. A lot of recent gasoline powered cars are almost as quiet as hybrids especially if they're using 'sneaker' tires that are designed to reduce tire noise.

You have a point here.

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Simple, so what a kid does to make noises on their bicycle, clip a playing card :)

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musical sounds like a cell phone ring-tone

dear god nooooooooo! I am sorry blind people, but silent cars are marvellous things.

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Noise pollution is the second half of pollution that needs to be gotten rid of. Vehicles account for the large majority of that pollution. Noise pollution itself account for over 3% of all deaths, worldwide. Quieter vehicles will produce a less stressful society overall and save people's lives.

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The only hybrid I'd consider is something like a Camaro or Mustang. They burn gas, rubber, and in the case of the Camaro, the occasional Decepticon.

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