FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
National Federation of the Blind Commends House for Passage of Safety Legislation
Washington, D.C. (December 16, 2010): The National Federation of the Blind today commended the United States House of Representatives for passing the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act (S. 841), which will protect the blind and other pedestrians from injury as a result of silent vehicle technology.
Because blind pedestrians cannot locate and evaluate traffic using their vision, they must listen to traffic to discern its speed, direction, and other attributes in order to travel safely and independently. Other people, including pedestrians who are not blind, bicyclists, runners, and small children, also benefit from hearing the sound of vehicle engines. New vehicles that employ hybrid or electric engine technology can be silent, rendering them extremely dangerous in situations where vehicles and pedestrians come into proximity with each other.
“The National Federation of the Blind commends the United States House of Representatives for the wise and decisive action taken today to preserve the right to safe and independent travel for the blind,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “The blind, like all pedestrians, must be able to travel to work, to school, to church, and to other places in our communities, and we must be able to hear vehicles in order to do so. This bill, which is the result of collaboration among blind Americans, automobile manufacturers, and legislators, will benefit all pedestrians for generations to come as new vehicle technologies become more prevalent. We hope that President Obama will sign this legislation into law before the close of the year.”
“The trend toward putting more environmentally friendly, quiet vehicles on the road has unintentionally jeopardized the safety and independence of the blind and other pedestrians," said Representative Edolphus Towns, the sponsor of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, who spent many years teaching travel with a white cane to the blind. "This bill will prevent many injuries while still allowing more clean vehicles on our nation’s roads.”
“I understand the safety concerns of blind pedestrians with these quiet automobiles; I have heard the same concerns from senior citizens in my district, and I appreciate the threat to children, bicyclists, and runners,” said Representative Cliff Stearns, the original Republican co-sponsor of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. “I deeply appreciate the support of all parties in working for the passage of this important safety legislation.”