FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release Date: 
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Category: 
Chris Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

Key Stakeholders Agree on Measures to Protect Blind Pedestrians from Silent Cars

Urge Passage as Part of Motor Vehicle Safety Act

Baltimore, Maryland (May 19, 2010): The National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the American Council of the Blind (ACB), the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (AAM), and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers (AIAM) announced today that they have agreed on proposed legislative language that will protect blind pedestrians and others from the danger posed by silent vehicle technology.  The four organizations are urging Congress to adopt and pass the language as part of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010—which is currently pending in both houses of Congress—as quickly as possible.  The proposed language would require the Department of Transportation to promulgate a motor vehicle safety standard requiring automobiles to emit a minimum level of sound to alert the blind and other pedestrians.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The National Federation of the Blind commends the automobile industry for its leadership on this issue and for its genuine concern for the safety of blind Americans, cyclists, runners, small children, and other pedestrians.  We look forward to working with the parties to this agreement, the United States Congress, and the Department of Transportation to ensure that America’s streets remain safe, both for those who drive and for those who do not.”

"Good policy is a collaborative effort, and this is a good approach for pedestrians and automakers," said Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

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, cyclists, runners, seniors, 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. 

A recent report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that hybrid and electric vehicles are nearly twice as likely to be involved in accidents with pedestrians as vehicles with internal combustion engines.