• Jul 4, 2009
2010 Lexus HS 250h - Click above for high-res image gallery

Now that hybrid cars have taken the top sales spots in Japan for the last few months, that country's Transport Ministry is reportedly launching an investigation to determine whether it's wise to require hybrid automobiles to emit an artificial sound when operating with the internal combustion engine switched off. The thinking is that hybrids may be more dangerous to the blind due to their quiet operation under electric power.

According to an unnamed official, the government's 13-member panel – consisting of a diverse group of scholars, vision-impaired groups, consumers, police and automobile industry officials – "decided to consider introducing a sound-making function" on all hybrids at its first meeting on Thursday, July 2. The panel hasn't yet decided what sound hybrids should make. We'll cast our unofficial vote in the direction of cowbells.

The issue is well-known in America, where the government has launched Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Acts in each of the last two years to study the supposed problem. Naturally, there is some opposition to artificial noise generators on hybrids. "On the other hand, we should pay attention to residents (along roads) as hybrids are excellent in reducing noise," added the Transport Ministry official.



Photos Copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

[Source: AFP via Google]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 36 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      They should probably use the same sound a car makes when it is in reverse gear.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Maybe they could make hybrid drivers play loud music.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah great, "smooth jazz" and Yanni turned up to 11 everywhere I go.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'd like it to emit cowbell sounds, especially if the cowbell gets louder as I accelerate more.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Im not deaf, but I have nearly been hit a couple of times in parking lots because I didnt hear the Prius until the last second.
      Yeaaa that was why i put magnaflows on my car, i want to make sure pedestrians are aware I was there and dont jump out in front of me lol.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thanks for saying it ugrafat. I read turbos post and thought "ok, there is a suburban next to you blocking sight, so you just walk out past it???" What kind of an idiot does that?

        Turbo, do you also just blindly put your hand into a garbage disposal without checking to turn off the power because the circuit breakers are blocked by a ladder? Why not just dive into a pool of hungry sharks and blame the tree branch that blocked your view to see if the coast is clear? Is there anything that people themselves are responsible for anymore?
        • 5 Years Ago
        oh and i meant to write blind in my original post. fail.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ever been in a parking lot? sometimes you can look left and right, but theres a big suburban blocking the right, so you dont know if a car is coming until you are in the driving lane.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I can imagine it to sound something like the cars used in the Jetsons.. lol
        • 5 Years Ago
        "... so you dont know if a car is coming until you are in the driving lane."

        Never mind. Proceed into traffic with this attitude often enough, you'll eliminate the problem.

        If you can't tell if traffic is coming, what are you doing in the road?

        This is nanny-state legislation at it's finest. Blame someone else, because you can't be bothered to look. Make it someone else's problem by passing legislation, instead of requiring people to actually take responsibility for their own actions. Never mind the fact that you can look *around* an object without putting yourself in harm's way, or that you can stop nearly instantaneously-- and the car can't.

        I suppose if your view is blocked, you just pull out into traffic while driving as well?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think Prius with sound is a great idea. Aston Martin, BMW and Ferrari all claimed that they had spent billions to tune their engine notes. Now every hybrid can have the same tone with a 10 dollar speaker.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I guess no one ever told you to look both ways before walking into the road?

        I can understand a blind person having an issue, but for a person with average sight to not see a car that's about to run them over makes no sense to me.

        Then again, as a motorcyclist, I assume all vehicles are out to get me anyway.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's a good idea for blind people, though AFAIK the Insight makes enough noise as it is.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yeah, that is what everybody wants - a noisy hybrid. This is asinine. Deaf people are not run over by bicyclists, so why would any other vehicle be any sneakier? And being hit by a bicyclist going 25 mph can seriously injure or kill someone. Yet, these government busy bodies have never suggested bicycles need noise makers to "save the deaf".

      But the salient point is that it is not the responsibility of the pedestrian to avoid being hit. It is the responsibility of the motorist not to run over people. We have laws for that. And hybrid drivers are not gunning for pedestrians any more than any other driver is. If a driver is not careful, he can run over a lot of people in any car. It has nothing to do with pedestrians saving themselves.

      The whole thing is absurd. Nannyism run wild
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yeah, stasis exhaust works for me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just put some coffee can exhausts at the back.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Please make it sound like a TIE fighter!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I find your idea intriguing, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

        in other words, that would be *awesome.*
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just go to Oakland and get some WOO-WOO exhaust whistles
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh, Bubb Rubb, you slay me.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You should be up cooking breakfast anyway.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Its like an alarm clock, WOO! WOO!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think this would be unnecessary. From my own experience Hybrids aren't even quiet. You can actually hear the battery, at least when its accelerating and if someone is blind, they probably have better hearing than most people.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Make sure the sound does not harm the land whales' ears.
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