Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Toyota Prius hits 8-yr old boy, Officials worried about Car Noise Levels

[This post is totally unrelated to my previous criticisms of the Toyota Prius as an Hybrid-Electric Vehicle.]

The Story: An 8 year old boy, doesn't look both ways on his bike, rides out into the street and gets hit by a car. The boy isn't seriously injured but does end up on the car's hood with some nasty cuts and bumps. Sounds like an everyday near tragedy...

The Controversy: The car that hit him was a Toyota Prius. The reason he rode into the street is that he claimed he never even heard it coming. This brings up a long brewing controversy about minimum noise levels for vehicles. In the days that cars were first produced it was believed that a vehicle's noise was so loud and harmful to the ears neighborhoods and cities passed laws on when and where a car could be driven. Now, however, vehicles are getting better and better sound damping technologies and can even run silently (on batteries) which is cause the health hazard described above, people not hearing vehicles approaching and putting themselves at risk.


Left Lane News: News Story Here
Left Lane News: Fisker Karma Uses Speakers to produce engine sound
USA Today: Blind People Complain about threats from Silent "Hybrids"


Charles said...

An 8-year old rode his bike into the street without looking and got hit by a car.
Because it's a quiet vehicle, somehow this is newsworthy? If it had been a quiet car (with a quiet running engine) would he have heard that? Would it still be newsworthy?
Believing that this is a problem is sort of akin to suggesting that we take away bikes from all 8-year olds.
If you've got a better solution to the problems we're all facing, I'd like to see it posted here.
In the meantime, this is not news. 8-year old morons ride in the street without looking where they're going and get hit by a car every day.
This is not a Prius problem, this is a Parent problem.

Laura said...

I've got to agree with Charles. I once owned a '71 Mercury Monterrey that was loud and the brakes squealed. One day I nearly hit an 8 year old girl and her dog. Not because I was driving too fast but because she didn't look before she stepped out into the street. She only looked up when the brakes squealed after I slammed my foot down.

Strong Moderate said...

Well Charles, it doesn't necessarily become newsworthy because it is a Prius but because vehicles (including the Prius) have become more and more quiet. I wish you would have actually read what I wrote instead of guessing what I think about this news-item. I posted a note above the news but obviously you did not care enough to heed it.

The idea is that vehicles have become much quieter over the past 5 or so years that society is taking a little to adjust. In residential areas you can usually hear a car coming a few blocks away, although this isn't an excuse for play/run in the streets. It may be the parents fault or perhaps there should be some way to alert those ahead that a vehicle is coming. Again, I'm not saying it is purely the Prius' fault (or any other quiet car - such as the Fiskar Karma listed in the links) but perhaps we ought to think about doing something. Perhaps... we could solve it the way the Fiskar Karma did: using speaker or some other kind of system to alert those ahead of you on the road that a at least a ton of metal, plastic, and acid is coming their way.

Laura, I've been in many of those same situations where some careless person walks out into the street without bothering to look. In residential areas thats why the speed limit is so low I guess, more children and pets that are more likely to go running into the streets from their naivety or lack of knowledge of the consequences. I wasn't there to actually witness this accident but I with some of these quiet vehicles that I only realize they are on the road after they buzz past me walking along a sidewalk.

By the way Charles, I love how you call an 8-year old a "moron", you must be a loving parent.