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Sounds and blind pedestrians. Hope not in Europe


IOW EV:s need a "Beep! Beep! Beep!" whenever they are driven slowly. That's like 1600 laws where people driving cars needed a person running in front of the vehicle with red flag.

I hope European version doesn't have that noisemaker. If it does and I buy it, first thing I will do is use wire cutters to disable that system.

I wonder what that means to Roadsters already sold. Or MiEV:s or any other car with silent engines.

Hm, just thinking of Timo's skitter-zapper; that principle could be combined with the crossing ultrasonics tech to identify hoomons heading for the car's path, and automatically give them a loud "Aa-OOOgah", without anyone else hearing it. I like it!

Could also work for cats, birds, dogs, deer, mooses, skunks, and other biological impediments to the S's right of way and passage. >:)

@brianman - Thanks!

If my Model S has a government mandate to produce sound, I'd even pay for the "Jetison's" option. In fact, it should be standard with the child jump seats. It'd be a great cross-promotional marketing opportunity, actually.

And when you pull into your driveway, it can switch to "Hey Wilma, I'm home!" Not the car Fred usually drives!

Like this: Aoogah!

Speaking of Fred, didja know that in the stone age the wheel was invented many times before it caught on -- but it was square! They kept giving up on it because the corners wore off ...

I've only seen blind folks crossing the road a few times, and they always do it at crosswalks. I don't think EV's need extraneous noises. This is looking to solve a problem that we don't have.

If you're the driver, you need to be attentive at all times.

I started to think about that based on some previous comment and actual danger from silent car comes between cyclist and a car. Not pedestrians that are actually using their legs or with blind people.

Many cyclists have poor understanding of traffic rules and they do stunts that would be considered crazy for any motorist in traffic, so silent car that they do not hear coming is way more likely to cause collision with cyclist than with blind people.

OTOH this does not give that noise-maker any real reason to exist because collisions between cyclist and a car tend to happen at relatively high speeds (for a cyclist) when cyclist decides to swap lanes in front of the car, not in a crossroads where cyclists can see the car. That speed is probably higher than required by this law.

Timo, I agree. On top, those cyclists frequently have their iPods on at full volume, not being able to hear cars coming, anyway. Similarly with elderly people, who are particularly endangered b/c they cannot react and move so quickly -- many of them cannot rely on hearing a car coming, either.

On the other hand, all of this can also be interpreted as an argument pro artificial noise: Optimal safety for all participants can only be achieved if you tap into all available senses, including hearing. That's why we have daylight running lights: You could argue we don't need them because most of us can hear the car coming...

FWIW, IMO: the daytime running lights are very good for less than optimal conditions like fog, dusk, dawn. It allows others to see the car much more easily when there's insufficient contrast with the background or glare from a low sun.

Just to be explicit: I am all for daytime running lights.

They are actually very good even in optimal conditions. Human eye can detect and distinguish lightsources way more easily than just different contrasts from background. In slow city traffic that doesn't matter much, but on long stretches where you wonder if it is safe to pass this truck or not, it does.

Since where I live and drive I'm used to daytime running lights I find that if there's a car that doesn't have the lights on my brain will automatically register it as being parket or off and I will only realise once it really gets closer that the car is actually moving.

I find the idea of noise generators in EV's ridiculous, but I have noticed when driving my EV (iMiev) that I have to be careful when passing people, especially children, from behing since they don't hear me coming at all!

I think Darwin will sort out those that do not look around pretty quickly, we don't need rules to make that happen slower >:-P

@Timo: (yes, I know you were kidding) Our large societal structure has largely eliminated Darwin from the picture for humans. Most people can name diseases or syndromes which no longer prevent their genes from continuing on...

Very surprised that more are not interested in protecting children. Don't understand how you could not be in favor of any sound that will grab a child's attention to ensure they know a car is approaching. Even if you believe that cyclists do not obey traffic laws or that all blind ped's use crosswalks or even if the sound is from the Jetsons which would be totally awesome and my first pick.

All kidding aside it's shortsighted to believe that, at a minimum, kids won't be the innocent victims of silent cars.

There should be a large dataset already of "silent cars" to determine statistically the degree to which this is a real problem. Priuses and other hybrids mostly run on batteries around parking lots; do we really see more low-speed accidents with them? If not, then the regulation mandating noise-makers on EV cars is solving a problem that isn't there. If so, I would still prefer a "low-impact" horn that I can use without being obnoxious -- honking at cyclists is rude and as likely as not to startle them into doing something dangerous.

Also, knowing your car is almost silent would engender different driving behavior. We'd all have to be aware that people don't hear us coming. A study has found that removing traffic lights and signs has improved safety and flow:

So it's not obviously good to cure an ill that has not yet occurred.

Kids, at least normal kids, have very good hearing. If they do not hear car approaching that means their mind is occupied elsewhere. In that case it really doesn't matter if the car is monster truck, they do not hear it. From moving car there is always at least rattling of the tires that is loud enough that kids hear it.

This is also attitude education -thing. Don't play at driveway. Look where you are going. If your ball bounces to the road don't sprint after it. etc. common sense things that are not so common sense to kids unless taught.

Kids get hit by cars, not because they don't hear them, but because they don't listen.

@Robert.Boston, I agree with the "low impact horn". That is something I miss sometimes.

@EdG, not always, there are places in my home city where you couldn't get to the street at all without traffic lights at the rush hours. Same with signs, you need to know where you should be going, without that traffic "flow" could stop completely at some places.

It might be true that some places there are just too many of those, but with some thinking what to put in intersections those should not be any problem.

I once left a car (I was a passenger) in NYC just to clear up an intersection 100 meters away - it was jammed for 20 minutes with no movement.

Perhaps where you are and in New York City it wouldn't work, but the idea is that drivers become aware of each other and of pedestrians and become, believe it or not, polite!

@EdG: agreed. From time to time here in Boston, traffic lights at major intersections get stuck on "blinker" (which is used normally only in the wee hours of the night) into morning rush hour. Invariably, it takes less time to get through these interchanges, although it always feels far, far riskier.

But I digress. Mandating noise-makers on EVs is simply retrograde regulation. There are similarly silly relicts on the books from the days when horses were being displaced by cars.

A driving law in Denmark on the more unusual side deals with a horse drawn carriage. If a carriage passes you on the road and the horse becomes nervous, you are legally obligated to pull over and let the horse pass – you may even need to cover your car to keep from scaring the horse; so take a blanket with you!

Similarly, any taxi drivers in the Hackney area of London are required to carry a bale of hay and a sack of oats with them at all times. This law dates back to the days when cabs were pulled by horses and drivers were responsible for feeding the animals when they got tired or hungry; but this law is still currently in the books.

In Australia, bars must be able to provide food, water and stables to any of their patron’s horses.

I firmly believe that the "make lots of noise like an old-style ICE car" rules will end up on someone's list of nonsense in 2050.

Add another one to our list of sounds to customize:
- upset horse

@EdG, about traffic lights. I don't object that they are sometimes unnecessary (I know a few places here where they don't do anything else than just slow down everybody). I just don't like oversimplifications, as with traffic signs, traffic lights are usually a good thing if done properly. That doesn't prevent incompetent road engineer designing a system that doesn't work.

In a city not far from my home town it is really hard to navigate without GPS, traffic signs for "which lane to choose" are put too close to actual intersection so that if you are at wrong lane it is usually too late/impossible to change lanes when you realize it because of traffic. Combined with one-way streets so that if you miss your turn, it was complete mystery how to get back there. Getting lost there was not difficult thing to do.

At the era before GPS I many times cursed that "what do they think, we don't have crystal balls here". Now we do.

It is so often interesting to look back at the intractable problems of the past and the solution which has occurred, but which could never have been foreseen.

In your example, also, the blame was to the road engineers, but was eventually solved without their help. Sometimes it seems the problem should be solved by those who created it, sometimes others just solve it anyway. And sometimes the solution is just to scrap the whole thing and start again, knowing what to avoid.


Getting back to the OP...

I think we should just work on restoring sight to the blind. That's clearly the root issue. ;)

@brianman, even that you are joking that's not so odd thing to say. There are already interfaces that connect directly to brain, so making blind to see might not be any more difficult than any other implant in near future. Vision early probably isn't that great, but enough to see a car in intersection.

Now to attach "internet" to brain with all that social networking, enhance our bodies with cybernetic implants and voila, a borg culture has born. Who wants to be part of building first cube?

The choice is made for you.

As soon as you wire up brains to the internet (and presumably the 4G network or its successor), then it's simplicity itself to have all the cars (also on the 4G network) advise pedestrians, bicyclists and, of course, other cars, of their locations in real-time. Hence, everyone will be able to directly perceive the location of every car near them and avoid accidents.

Now, back to the present. :-)

I was semi-serious with my comment about blind. That technology (brain-computer interface) is advancing quite fast, so fast in fact that it is quite possible that in just few years this "cars need to make sound" -law becomes completely irrelevant for blind, because there are no blind people barring some extreme cases.

This is a one law that is certain to be in "stupid laws of the past" -book somewhere in very near future.

We live quite interesting times. Nobody knows what the world will look like after just couple of decades (immortality gets invented and retirement age is raised to one million years. Suicide rate goes thru the roof).

If life span becomes unlimited, so does potential life earnings, thus damages for serious injury will skyrocket.

When you cross the street, you'd be risking an end to an infinite lifespan, so the risk isn't worth the chance. (Better hear those cars coming!)

Infinite does not compute. The vanishingly small odds of "struck by lightning" or "hit by meteorite" or "drowned in flash flood" suddenly become near-certainties.

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