Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Silence is unsafe?

You weird hearing people just slay me.

All these decades you've bitched about noise pollution, about the yammer of traffic.

Now that quiet electric cars -- you can barely hear the hum of the motors -- are the wave of the future, you're worried that their very silence might compromise your safety, according to a May 7 article in The Economist.

What if we can't hear an electric car coming? you ask. It'll run us over before we know it! We've got to find ways to make it audible, even to mimic the deep-throated song of a 12-cylinder Jaguar engine or the squeal of brakes in a panic stop.

Oh, please.

How do you think deaf people have survived so long in an automotive society? We can't hear sirens, horns, oncoming dumptrucks or speeding Porsches. Yet we manage. When was the last time you read about a car hitting a deaf person? Come on, have you ever?

Deaf folks are simply alert to their surroundings. We have learned to trust in the old Mark One Eyeball, among other senses.

And, admit it, all too many of you are deaf to outside sound when you turn up the speakers, when you (stupidly) converse on your cell at the wheel, when you plug in the earbuds of your iPods.

Wake up, nitwits, and count your blessings.


  1. I have read that visually-impaired people have complained about electric cars, because they can't hear them before attempting to cross the street.

  2. That certainly is technically possible, but I have read that blind people listen for the subtle sound of the change of crossing lights before crossing the street. Is that perhaps a better solution than continued vehicular noise pollution? Are visual indicators of blindness, such as canes, to warn oncoming drivers also a more sensible solution?

    Also, drivers of electric cars can be instructed in the consequences of soundlessness. It is their responsibility, after all, to avoid pedestrians.

  3. "Count your blessings" - excellent advice.

  4. Gonna whack you with my Volt, Henry. You'll never see me coming.