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Eight-year-old Owen Erickson has some scrapes and bruises but is otherwise no worse for wear after he found himself on the hood of a Toyota Prius this week. Owen had turned his bicycle onto the road in front of the car, which his mother says he didn't hear. The event, which thankfully ended well for all involved, brings additional attention to the debate regarding hybrids and the lack of noise they make under electric power. Owen's mom notes that the noise matter is, in her opinion, a big safety concern. That said, had her son looked before turning into the street, he would have likely avoided his accident entirely.
The blind can't simply look, however, and they rely on their ears to know when a vehicle is approaching. This is a matter that's garnered coverage here in the past. Legislation that addresses the noise-for-hybrids issue now sits before the U.S. House of Representatives. Whether it'll lead to anything is anyone's guess, but when you consider that hybrids are now part of the mainstream and not the novelties they were a few short years ago, someone's probably going to do something soon. It'd be nice to see the automakers proactively address this and eliminate the need for additional federal regulation. Politicians are experts at overcomplicating matters, and when you boil this one down, it's pretty uncomplicated: just add noise. After all, hybrids and electrics are likely to become an increasingly common presence on our roads as automakers bring the next generation of green vehicles to market. The whole idea's not that ridiculous, anyway. Don't forget that Henrik Fisker plans to pipe noise out through speakers on his Karma hybrid...and he's promoting it as a desirable feature.
[Sources: KARE, CNN]