While hybrid cars have gained popularity for their high gas mileage, and low emissions, one thing they don’t emit is a problem for some Iowans. National Federation of the Blind of Iowa president, Mike Barber, says the hybrid cars don’t emit much noise, making them tough for blind people to hear.
Barber nearly had a run in with one of the cars recently at an intersection in Des Moines. Barber says he never has trouble at the crossing, as he stops and listens for the traffic. He says he did that recently, but when he got to the middle of the street his cane encountered a quiet car as it passed by. "I could’ve been hit by the car, I had no clue he was even there, that’s the danger," Barber says.
Hybrid cars run on electricity or gas, and when they’re running on electricity, you don’t have the sound of combustion that goes with a gas engine. Barber says the hybrids need something to make them audible to those without sight. Barber says something similar to the engine noise made by a car would help blind people tell what is going on.
Barber says the problem is an unintended consequence of going green. Barber says they’re not against the hybrid cars, as he says they think the cars are good for the environment. "We just have to have some way for us to know when that car is coming, so we can stay out of the way," Barber says. Barber says the hybrid cars are a bigger problem for blind people than the lawsuit that recently made headlines saying the design of money is discriminatory because blind people can’t tell one paper bill from another.