From the Field — JVIB Extract
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Orientation and mobility
Hybrid cars deemed too quiet for pedestrians
Hybrid vehicles or hybrid-electric vehicles, which operate with internal combustion engines and electric motors that are generally powered by electric batteries, make virtually no noise when moving at slower speeds when they run solely on electric power. The Committee on Automotive and Pedestrian Safety of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), which was originally formed in the spring of 2004, recently found that such vehicles cannot be detected auditorily when operating with electric power, thus posing a hazard to people who are blind or visually impaired who rely on their hearing to determine whether a vehicle is present when crossing a street or walking through a parking lot. The tests conducted by NFB involved people standing in parking lots or on sidewalks who were asked to signal when they heard several different hybrid models drive by. “People [asked] ‘When are they going to start the test?’ And ... the vehicle had already done two or three laps around the parking lot,” said Deborah Kent Stein, chair of the Committee on Automotive and Pedestrian Safety.
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