Chevy Volt Aims to Help the Blind

I bought a Prius over the summer. Halfway through the test drive my fiancee asked the salesman if he was aware that electric cars have caused issues for blind pedestrians, since they don’t hear the cars coming. His response (after an awkward silence where he no doubt considered whether his answer would lose him the sale) was “Well, it comes with a horn.”

Apparently Chevy had the same idea, and they met with the National Federation for the Blind to discuss the best way to implement an alert system. Rather than use a traditional horn noise, they are trying slightly different noises, with the same intention: alert a pedestrian that a car is coming. This solution is driver-controlled, so it still requires being alert and paying attention! Check out Chevy’s video of their tests, and then share in the comments what you think the alert noise should be. Personally, I’d like a button to make my car play Darth Vader’s theme will definitely alert people!

via Engadget

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7 replies

  1. The fire service runs into similar issues with hybrid cars when they are involved in accidents. At times it can be difficult to know if a hybrid car is actually on and running when approaching so the training is to always check to see that the key is removed, if possible, first.

  2. Interesting, I didnt even think about that Larry! What do you do with something like the Prius (later models) where they don’t have an ignition? My car has keyless ignition, so I just leave my keys clipped inside my bag and hit the power button. Do you look for the dashboard display next?

  3. Exactly right. We’d either ask the driver, if she/he was still conscious, “is the car off?” or check the dashboard as you mentioned.

  4. Larry first- NEVER cut an orange cable, ever. Industry using orange to signify high voltage lines. Our training had us cut 12 volt battery cables for safety and all hybrids still have a 12 volt battery using red for positive. Some hybrids have a fuse or breaker you can pull to disengage power from battery pack and others are designed to cut power from battery pack in event of accident or airbag deployment.

    Carly- I will play devil’s advocate here. Plenty of sighted folks getting run over by cars today because they “did not see them.” The responsibility is on the drivers and let’s face it, drivers today suck. Period. That is why cars cost so much more because the industry has to build them to the dumbest drivers and not the best.
    And i for one do not want to have to put up with “screamers” built into the front ends of next gen cars. On a crowded urban street crossing, a blind person is not going to be able to distinguish the sound of a gasoline powered car coming right at them or a lane over going around them.
    Hence the horn.

  5. Thanks David. Yep, we’re trained about the orange cables. Some manufacturer’s aren’t using it though. Good tips though on the other stuff!

  6. David-its true the responsibility is on the driver, regardless of whether the pedestrian is sighted. On the other hand, blind pedestrians often rely on the sound of a car to determine if it is safe to enter a crosswalk, AND where the car is in the crosswalk…

    Honestly, a weird beep is only helpful if the driver is paying attention too, but it’s a start.


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