Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Arlen Spector (R-PA) introduced The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 yesterday. The bill addresses the problem that blind people have of crossing streets now that silent hybrid cars have gained popularity.
In the old days, blind pedestrians could rely on hearing to tell them if a car was nearby, but most hybrids turn off the gas engine when at low speeds or when decelerating. If passed, the act will require the Secretary of Transportation to investigate ways to make blind pedestrians safer in a hybrid world, most likely by adding some sort of noisemaker to the cars.
There are already laws in many places that limit the amount of noise a vehicle’s exhaust or stereo can make, and extra is an annoyance, not an actual danger. So just like having a speed minimum on a highway makes everyone safer, a noise minimum will do the same.