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For decades, police and lawmakers have been trying to crack down on excessive noise from cars, whether it came from wide open exhaust or audio systems. Many places have drive-by noise standards. My own town has an ordinance that if an officer of the law can hear a car stereo from more than about 50 feet away, the driver can get a ticket. Now lawmakers may have to establish minimum noise levels for cars to make sure we can hear them. With the increasing number of hybrid vehicles and the approach of various kinds of electrics, virtually-silent cars are becoming more prevalent. Growing up we told to stop, look and listen before crossing the street. For those who are blind, looking is out of the question and listening yields no useful information for these types of vehicles (see this post). A Maryland Senate committee will hold a hearing this coming week on a bill that would create a task force to study the issue and possibly impose a minimum noise level for vehicles in the state. Hopefully whatever solution they come up with is less annoying than those back up warning beeps they have on many trucks and some cars - I'm looking at you, Prius.

[Source: Automotive News-Sub. req'd]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      ROFLOL, the flags and lanterns bit is right on.

      I would argue that blind folks can still hear electric and hybrid cars (they usually have really good hearing and can hear the tires crunching around and the electric motors whining), it's the fully sighted, fully hearing capable people that have the problem.

      It's all a matter of education. The only reason we use sound first and sight second is because that's what we were taught and that's what we are used to. People should learn to LOOK. How do you think deaf people survive? No type of noise making device is going to do squat for them and they are going to be fine, why can't unimpaired persons?

      You already can't hear a REGULAR Honda Civic at low speeds in a dense urban area. When you're in downtown NY or any city environment, how much do you navigate by ear? Probably not much. It's only when you go to suburban parking lots where it really comes into play.

      On the other side of the equation, drivers of ALL quiet vehicles should be alert, assume pedestrians aren't aware of them (unless eye contact is made), and not afraid to use the brakes, horn, and even headlights/flashing to get pedestrian attention. It's a team effort, it doesn't work unless drivers AND pedestrians pay attention.

      As far as noise makers, ALL designs will be problematic (not always having the intended affect, getting noise tickets, etc.) and have drawbacks (such as being only slightly less annoying than an exhaust whistle, loud music of [type you don't like], repetitive noises that drive you mad, etc.).
      • 7 Years Ago
      Fake engine sounds have been around for some time. So a passing Prius can sound like this: http://www.f1-fansite.com/sound/Ferrari%20fly%20by.mp3

      But if you leave it to the politicians, it'll be more like this: http://www.f1-fansite.com/sound/vocalf1.mp3



      • 7 Years Ago
      G O D _ H E L P _ U S ! ! !

      Literally !
      May GOD HELP US
      against the stupidity of man !

      Visdom says:
      " Problem Solving -> is a question of HOW ! "

      Oh PLEASE !!!
      I don't want to believe this is true !

      For decades on, engineers have worked every way the
      profit dictators have allowed them, to try and make
      the ICEage engines at least superficially pleasant to living creatures & the environment.
      Noise is one BIG issue, with countless scientists
      reporting proof of stress disturbance caused by traffic noice.
      All the ancient ICEage engines' inherent shortcomiings put together, makes it hard to grasp their world dominance - until you look at the oil imperialism and infrastructure.

      Let's STOP burning things to get power !

      Produce the Juice right !
      • 7 Years Ago
      Motorcycles routinely get ignored, no matter how noisy they are. Furthermore, Kballs is right. If noise was the only issue, the deaf would be extinct.

      The real root of the problem is that American driving conditions do not adequately penalize fast, aggressive, oblivious driving.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've told the Tesla folk that they need to put in some kind of whooshing noise...otherwise they are looking at some PR disaster when a Tesla owner runs down some pedestrians.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Many Prius owners have joked that the Jetsons sound would make a good noise, if such a mandate is really necessary.

      I think what would be better is an alternative to the horn to use in low-speed situations like parking lots. A steering-column mounted switch to ring a friendly bell sound, louder than a bicycle bell (so as to distinguish that it's a bigger vehicle) but not as loud as a streetcar, for example.

      Come to think of it, many cars could benefit from a way to politely announce the equivalent of "I'm coming up near you" without having to sound the horn.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It sounds like we are getting back to the early days of the automobile where they had nice ideas like having people walk in front of them with flags or lanterns. Personally I think it is nice cars are getting quieter. There is already enough noise in this world. The cars are still not totally quiet, there is always tire noise. We own a hybrid and we are aware that often people can't hear us in parking lots and such.

      Also, would a "hearing" about a lack of noise really make sense....
      • 7 Years Ago
      Silly indeed. Sound is a terrible safety indicator most of the time but is always a source of annoyance.

      For what it's worth, the backup beeper in the Prius is only audible inside the car, not outside. Not sure what the purpose of that is, I turned mine off after discovering that.
      • 7 Years Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      All I can think of is ice cream truck music....
      • 7 Years Ago
      Just play music while you are driving or something. Beeping sounds can be very annoying and fake engine sounds equally annoying. Whatever they come up with, it's okay as long as it's not too annoying. Yeah I guess this is a valid concern as silent vehicles like hybrids and EVs can pretty much be "silent killers" to blind people and bikers who primarily rely on sound to avoid cars.