Release Date: 
Thursday, February 25, 2010
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 Urges Chairman Waxman to Move Forward with Safety Legislation

Pedestrian Safety Bill Gains Two-Hundredth Cosponsor

Washington, D.C. (February 25, 2010):  The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, H.R. 734, gained its two-hundredth cosponsor today.  The bill, which has been championed by the National Federation of the Blind, is intended to protect blind and other pedestrians from injury or death 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, 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. 

“The National Federation of the Blind urges Chairman Waxman to move forward on H.R. 734 and 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 the store, and to other places in our communities without being injured or killed.  This bill will benefit all pedestrians for generations to come as new vehicle technologies become more prevalent.” 

The bill requires the Secretary of Transportation, within ninety days of its enactment, to commence a two-year study to determine the best means to provide blind and other pedestrians with information about the location, motion, speed, and direction of vehicles.  Upon completion of the study, the Secretary will report the findings of the study to Congress and, within ninety days, establish a minimum vehicle safety standard for all new vehicles sold in the United States.  Automobile manufacturers will have two years to comply with the vehicle safety standard.