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US lawmakers to de-silence electric cars

Or make them smelly

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A bill that will require electric and hybrid cars to make enough noise so that blind folks can hear them coming has been introduced in the US Senate.

The bill, S. 841 - more pedestrian-ly known as the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 - doesn't specifically mention adding noise to otherwise silent vehicles. It merely instructs the US Secretary of Transportation to conduct a study to devise and require a "non-visual alert regarding the location, motion, speed, and direction of travel of a motor vehicle."

Sounds like noise to us, though. After all, what else would work? Smell?

Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, endorsed the bill, saying in a statement that "The blind, like all pedestrians, must be able to travel to work, to school, to church, and to other places in our communities without being injured or killed."

Sounds fair. Not being injured or killed is a reasonable request.

Should S. 841 and its nearly identical counterpart in the US House of Representatives, H.R. 734, make it into law, don't expect noisy 'leccies to be roaring up your roadway anytime soon. Both bills allow for two years for the "non-visual alert" study and another two for car manufacturers to implement the standard.

Add in the bill's alloted six months for various administrative-overhead items, and it will be, at minimum, not until 2014 until your new Tesla Roadster will be equipped to not injure or kill the blind. ®

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