Hybrid electric cars are great not only for cutting down on carbon emissions, but also on reducing noise pollution. When a hybrid car such as the Toyota Prius is running on its electric motor, the operation is near silent when compared to the traditional sounds of a petrol or diesel engine.
While most people find a quieter car a good thing, those who are visually impaired – and rely on sounds to inform them of their environment – see the silent cars as a hazard.
As a result, the Japanese transport ministry is now reviewing on whether or not to add noise-making devices onto otherwise quiet hybrids so that visually impaired pedestrians will know of their presence.
"We have received opinions from automobile users and vision-impaired people that they feel hybrid vehicles are dangerous," a transport ministry official said in an AFP story.
The transport ministry put together a panel of scholars, vision-impaired groups, consumers, police and the automobile industry to consider the issue and decided this week that a "sound making function" could be the solution.
"On the other hand, we should pay attention to residents (along roads) as hybrids are excellent in reducing noise," the official added.
The panel has yet to discuss what sort of noise would be added to the car, but I wouldn't be opposed to hybrids that go "quack quack."