Release Date: 
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Michael Barber
National Federation of the Blind of Iowa
(515) 771-8348

Blind Group Asks Congressional Delegation to Co-sponsor "Quiet Car" Bill

Des Moines, Iowa (May 20, 2008): The National Federation of the Blind of Iowa (NFBI) this week announced that they have asked the Iowa Congressional delegation in the House of Representatives to co-sponsor H.R. 5734, a bill which would require the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to establish and promulgate a national standard for a minimum sound to be emitted by all new hybrid and electric automobiles sold in the United States, based on appropriate scientific research and consultation with blind Americans and other affected groups.

"The hybrid and electric automobiles are good for the environment," said Michael Barber, president of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa.  "But they need to make some ambient noise so we know when they're approaching, when they're stopping, and when they're turning.  As children learning to cross the street, we were taught to stop, look, and listen.  Many of us cannot look, so we depend on our ears.  If the cars are silent, we have no way to know they're approaching."  Barber continued, "On this past Monday, I was crossing 4th and Locust when my white cane suddenly made contact with one of these hybrid vehicles which passed very silently in front of me.  I could have been injured or killed because I was completely unaware of the presence of this vehicle."

Members of the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa have been faxing, e-mailing, and calling Congressional representatives in their districts asking them to add their names as co-sponsors of this piece of legislation.  Thus far, no Iowa representatives have signed onto the bill.

"I'm certain," said Barber, "that before long, we'll have 100 percent of our delegation on board.  That's just the kind of people they are."

The National Federation of the Blind of Iowa is a statewide organization of blind and sighted individuals working to advance the general welfare of the blind of Iowa and the nation.  Under the motto, "We are changing what it means to be blind," the organization educates the public about the ability of persons who are blind to lead productive and self-sufficient lives and advocates for the rights of blind people.