Ululating for “Safety”

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The latest?

Uncle wants to require that hybrid and electric cars be fitted with devices that make them noisy, so that the blind will be aware of their presence.

See here.

Apparently, there is an epidemic of blind – er, visually impaired – people being run over by silent-running hybrid and electric vehicles.

Well, no.

Hard data is hard to come by, but I did find a 2009 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Technical Report (here) on the subject. According to this document, over a seven year period (2000-2007) a nationwide tsunami of 72 pedestrians were “involved” in crashes with hybrid-electric vehicles. Another 48 bicyclists were struck by a hybrid or electric car (or the reverse) over the same period.

The study does not break down how many of the 77 were blind.

I assume none of the 48 cyclists were.

I could not find more recent data, but unless there has been a surge in the number of blind people being flattened by hybrids and electric cars, it is probably still a very small number. Probably under 100… out of a population of about 320 million.

But the individual cases, when they do occur, make for highly combustible oh-the-humanity media coverage. Just as the individual cases of a sail fawn-gabbling parent inadvertently backing their car over a toddler did – and became the justification for a new mandate requiring that all new cars be fitted with closed-circuit cameras built into the rear bumper and an LCD monitor up front. Notwithstanding, by the way, that the view rearward as seen this way is inferior to the view one gets by looking back there using one’s own eyes. Which have depth perception and can also see things on the periphery – which the cameras can’t.

Now, the safety jihadis are ululating that the hundreds of thousands of hybrid and electric cars sold annually be fitted with noisemakers – specifically, waterproof speakers, which will produce some sort of faux IC engine sound, at an estimated cost to the car industry (that is, to you and me) of $23 million in the first year – because perhaps 72 blind people have either been run over by – or walked into – a hybrid or electric car.

The latter in italics for good reason.

Just as as backing up over a child arguably involves negligence on the part of the parent/driver (shouldn’t parents of toddlers be obliged to be aware where their toddlers are before putting the gear selector into Reverse?) so also the assignation of at least some of the blame for incidents “involving” the blind and hybrid-electric cars lies with the the blind themselves.

Pu another way: Should blindness absolve the blind person from taking care to not place his body in the path of a hybrid or electric car?

Why should it be entirely up to the owner of the hybrid-electric car to not only pay attention to his driving and exercise due care, but also to pay for an annoying sound-maker to alert a jaywalking or oblivious blind person to the presence of his vehicle? If the blind person is crossing the street legally, then traffic – hybrid and otherwise – will be stopped.

If, on the other hand, the jaywalker is crossing against traffic, which has the legal right-of-way, how is it the hybrid or electric car driver’s fault if the blind guy suddenly appears in his path?

In any case, this whole business is much ado about very little.

A very expensive much ado.

Despite the minimal – the almost nonexistent – actual body count, NHTSA is arguing that a hypothetical 2,800 pedestrian and cyclist injuries (not deaths) would be avoided by imposing $23 million in first-year implementation costs on the car industry.

That is, on car buyers.

NHTSA – government, generally – loves to confect victims in the absence of actual ones. It helps to justify the jihad. The VW “cheating” thing is another case in point. But at least that “involved” hundreds of thousands of cars.

It’s slightly embarrassing to insist that $23 million be spent – that is, imposed – on the car industry, on car buyers, because fewer than a 100 actual people (a fraction of whom are blind people) over a seven-year period have had some kind of unfortunate interaction with a hybrid or electric car.

But let’s say it is the “2,800” postulated by NHTSA.

The cost per incident is still astronomical. Lives are infinitely valuable to those who possess them. But imposing infinite costs for the sake of others’ lives is is economically insensate. The fact is we do place a value on lives – ours as well as others.

This is called cost-benefit analysis.

Certainly, it is tragic when a blind person is struck by a car – hybrid or otherwise. But $23 million to prevent it?

Paying attention would be a lot cheaper.

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31 COMMENTS

  1. You believe it? I seem to have gotten a bum copy of the Constitution! Mine seems to have omitted the part which says “It shall be the obligation of the government to determine what could possibly cause harm to a tiny segment of the population, under improbable and unlikely conditions, and then prescribe remedies for such, which all citizens will be obliged to obey at all times…just in case!”.

    I guess they’re foing to have to outlaw aerodynamic cars too, since they are also so quiet.

  2. Now Slate has come up w/another problem regarding driverless cars – and this will play into it too. Fewer traffic fatalities will result in few organs available for transplant. Can you believe this crap?

    • A government lottery will be instituted then to force people to “donate” organs. After all it’s the social contract.

      Anyways…. I’ve seen this on and off for years and it each time it sounds like the anti-motoring new urbanists at work again. What they do is figure out ways to make driving more expensive and painful. The actual facts don’t matter to them. It simply has to sound right. For instance tire noise is the bigger clue an automobile is approaching than engine noise.

  3. They might wish to employ the Phineas Freak Pedestrian Dispersal System. This is from the underground comix artist Gilbert Shelton….the scene is that Phineas, one of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, has an issue with people dawdling in the crosswalk and when he hits the horn on his VW beetle, a dude says…”Hey Man the horn go beep, beep.” So Phineas rigs up a 24″ speaker with a huge powerful amp and a recording of an 18 wheeler full of chickens locking up its brakes at 80MPH…..results were that even deaf people fled the scene…..oh, well, that would definitely trigger some snowflakes.

  4. Hmmm, that’s fine, but there are other risks that need consideration too. Let’s fit every vehicle with a meteor screen, designed to slow down and absorb damage from random meteors. The risk is mainly theoretical, but it’s still there. We could fit cars with deer-catchers, like the cow-catchers on the old locomotives, we could install governors so that no car can exceed 25 mph (faster is unsafe, “studies” prove it), we could require drivers to file “drive plans” with the local police, prior to embarking, to increase safety even further.

    The liberal ideal for a vehicle is the F-35. Designed by committee, unreliable, insanely expensive and under-performing. If the Kommisars at the EPA had their way, we’d all be driving the automotive equivalent of F-35s, if we are allowed to drive at all.

  5. Eric_G said:
    “And as for the bicycles, you really can’t hear much of anything when riding because of all the wind noise.”

    Back before I got old and fat, I rode many thousands of miles a year. You can hear hybrids just fine due to tire noise both on gravel and paved roads. What would benefit from a warning is the bleating of your basic judgemental SJW asshole. I suggest a tattoo on the forehead of said sphincters. BTW, Eric P, when can we expect a review of the Elio??

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
    Buon Natale y Felice Capo d’Anno

  6. If, on the other hand, the jaywalker is crossing against traffic, which has the legal right-of-way, how is it the hybrid or electric car driver’s fault if the blind guy suddenly appears in his path?

    A blind person jaywalking? That’s somebody who’s bucking for a Darwin Award. Why should any of us try to stop them from attaining it? In fact, I can’t imagine the majority of the visually impaired community reacting in any way other than assuming that such a person has reaped the inevitable reward of stupidity.

  7. This internal combustion sound effect seems rather tame. Why not the sound of a thousand bull elephants in full charge, or a locomotive way past its redline? Some people with strange sensibilities are probably going to want that “George Jetson”, car of the future burble. Some enterprising person is going to give it to them. Some other noises: circus calliope, NASCAR race, marching band or a marching army, a lift off countdown as a continuous loop, raging water rapids. The truly devious might find Doppler sound effects. The will be such a cacophony of Suessian proportions there will be no other possibility other than to outlaw such noises.

    • Max, you’re headed the right direction. But the clovers who really want this crap will no doubt verily hate to no end that vehicle playing “Dixie”. Ah yes, rub their noses in it and they’ll soon stop shitting there.

      Nobody’s mentioned a malady not uncommon for people who are blind from a congenital aspect and that’s deafness. So how to you deal with that? I say one way is with train horns. 150 decibels can not only be heard but felt. Or maybe an electric cannon, feel that too and get rid of the pigeons as well. Or maybe have a fart machine with essence of skunk or cat shit. A brief burst of pepper spray should alert most anyone unless they’re wearing a gas mask and you don’t see that a lot. Of course I don’t see the blind crossing a street often either but as long as we’re playing the really long odds………

      • LMAO Eight, “fart machine with essence of skunk”… my wife would say my farts exceed that on their own. I was thinking a 747 on takeoff should do it, maybe add some exhaust smell for the full experience.

  8. Saaaafty! Saaaaaaaaafty!

    I just recently saw a commercial for Mazda, I think. It’s where there’s a couple taking home a baby from the hospital and touting all the safety features of this crossover/suv… Well, the whole thing just wants to make me retch. It’s the true clover car commercial.

    Throughout the whole commercial the clover is distracted, but, the ‘vehicle’ keeps saving him from his own stupidity. At no more than 10 seconds into the commercial the clover driving the vehicle does a stupidly blind backup maneuver out of his parking spot nearly hitting another car, but the ‘saaaaafty backup camera’ saves him. I guess you don’t have to ‘look first’ before putting the car in gear any more.

    Then later in the commercial, he’s looking in his rear view mirror, not to observe other traffic prior to making a lane change, but, to look at femme-clover soothing the little clove-et in the back seat. Apparently it’s the blind spot monitor/lane-departure warning that saves our clover yet again.

    At any rate, is this what sells cars these days? Basically saying it’s ok to be distracted cuz you’ve brought a brand new little clover into the world, we’ll just make sure that the car will be so clover proof, just for you (and everyone else who now must have their vehicles saddled with this crap?) So, this is shitty kind of driving is okie-dokie, but, god forbid, for example, I run into one of those ‘4th Amendment Free Zones’ and have happened to have 2 cocktails or so (never happened yet, but, I’m still relatively young), but, otherwise having never done anything to warrant a stop (and in fact have been driving damn near 30 years without having been in ANY accident, and I have always lived in a high population density urban setting)…

    And people wonder why I drink. Serenity now!

  9. Picture clover sitting there, halo over her head, saying “But eric, what is a life worth?”. If spilled hot coffee in your lap is worth millions of dollars, then a life saved is literally priceless…….clover…….genuflecting to almighty “safety”.

  10. This is like how they went through our small town and put these bumpy plates on every single corner with a ramp curb. This way the blind people will know it is an intersection and not trip. Never mind that there has never been a blind person walking in our tiny town. Now if they do they will be safe from tripping on the curb.

    There was a federal grant/funds so it didn’t cost the town any money. Win/win.

  11. Once again Eric misses the point. The modern regulator’s job is to figure out the best way to add additional burdens to the already bloated rulebook he imposes on the regulated industry. Ideally, anticipating a potential problem, no matter how minor, to show how necessary he is. The idea that improved driver training (it is very important to watch out for people walking out in front of your vehicle), which is a function of the state, never occurs to the regulator because they always assume the worst in people. In the regulator’s mind, everyone is drunk, stupid and probably a child molester. So better to hold someone else accountable. In this case, the manufacturers for making a quiet car.

    Never mind the fact that my Cherokee’s engine is nearly silent at low speed. Or that it shuts off at stop lights -which means a blind person wouldn’t know it was there any more than a Prius. And never mind that even my tinnitus-plagued middle aged ears can hear tires on pavement. And as for the bicycles, you really can’t hear much of anything when riding because of all the wind noise.

    • My grandmother was blind and belonged to the association for the blind, so I met a lot of her sightless friends as well. Let me tell ya, the remaining senses of the blind are greatly enhanced. My grandmother wouldn’t be unaware of a Prius, hell, she could hear an ant taking a piss under the kitchen sink!

    • Yes, EricG, they DO assume the worst of people…not themselves of course.

      Notice the way virtually all laws in the last 150 years or so, those that are not about punishing actual harm. They assume everyone is a suicidal killer that, if not regulated by GovCo, will slaughter with abandon. Ironic that this same organization, GovCo, seems to be willing to go half way around the globe to drop bombs on the heads of people who have done us no harm nor have the ability to inflict any harm.

      To paraphrase Bastiat, if people are so stupid and evil that they cannot be allowed to live their lives without GovCo’s interference, why is it that the proposals of politicians, bureaucrats and social do-gooders (Clovers) are always considered good? Are they not also members of the human race?

        • What scares me is that some of those bureaucrats have no accountability at all. Unelected officials at EPA, DOE, FDA, or many other alphabet agencies come up with these regulations unbidden by Congress and without the consent of citizens.

          I hope Trump holds to his word, because that swamp in DC is getting pretty deep, and could use a good draining.

          • Drain hell, that particular ecosystem needs to be NUKED. What a lovely vision, glowing superheated steam and carbonaceous bits of incinerated rule books and wannabe rulers raining down on the Potomac…

            • S-bomb, or Neutron bomb, is what’s needed.
              Don’t want to damage the historical items. 😉
              Just the parasites living there.

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