FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Friday, December 10, 2010
Category: 
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

National Federation of the Blind Commends Senate for Passage of Safety Legislation

Urges Swift Passage by House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. (December 10, 2010): The National Federation of the Blind today commended the United States Senate 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 Senate 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 now call upon the House of Representatives to pass this legislation as quickly as possible so that it can be sent to the President’s desk for his signature before the close of the year.”

“I’m a major advocate of hybrids—I own one, I drive one, and I’ve seen firsthand their environmental and economic benefits,” said Senator John Kerry, the sponsor of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act.  “This legislation will allow us to continue to promote our energy independence and technological innovation while safeguarding those who use senses other than sight to navigate the roads.”

“The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is proud of this legislation, which is the result of our cooperative relationship with advocates for blind pedestrians,” said Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.  “We believe that this legislation represents a common-sense approach to ensure that the blind and other pedestrians remain safe as new vehicle technologies emerge.”