[mountainstate] Fw: [announce] Background Paper for Legislative Seminar H.R.734-S.841
dandmbrown at atlanticbb.net
Thu Feb 18 00:58:28 GMT 2010
Quiet Vehicles: Safety Issues for Blind Pedestrians
2010 ACB Legislative Seminar
When vision is reduced or completely eliminated as a means of understanding and responding to one's environment, an individual's hearing takes over as the primary source of environmental information. Traditionally, people who are blind or visually impaired have learned to rely on their hearing to navigate safely across streets and through other vehicular ways, such as parking lots. In so doing, the sound of traffic is their primary focus. Traffic sounds provide information about such things as the position of vehicles, their direction of travel, and the speed at which they are likely to move. With this information, the pedestrian can make informed decisions about when to cross a street or other vehicular way safely.
In recent years, automobile manufacturers around the world have responded to public concern for our environment by producing increasing numbers of vehicles that are meant to be environmentally friendly. This has led to an increased number of vehicles on the road which not only utilize alternative fuels to power their engines, but also run much more quietly than older automobiles did. Though many aspects of this trend are laudatory, efforts by the auto industry to make the environment less noisy have placed pedestrians who use that noise to evaluate the safety or danger of the area in which they are traveling at serious risk. A recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, concluded that at low speeds hybrid and electric vehicles are twice as likely to be involved in accidents with pedestrians as vehicles with internal combustion engines.
The American Council of the Blind urges Congress to pass this legislation (H.R. 734, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, introduced by Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY); companion bill S.841, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009, introduced by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)).
Key Provisions of the Bill
1.. The Secretary of Transportation is directed to conduct a study beginning within 90 days of passage of this legislation and to complete it within two years of its commencement, at which time, the Department of Transportation shall report the study's findings to Congress.
2.. Within 90 days after the conclusion of the study, the Secretary is then directed to establish a standard that will take into account the results of the study, and will set forth the minimum information that must be provided by motor vehicles required for blind and other pedestrians to travel safely and independently in urban, rural, and residential environments.
3.. The bill provides that the standard shall apply to all "new motor vehicles."
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