Japan may add noise to quiet hybrid cars for safety

Jul 03, 2009
A customer admires a Honda Motor's hybrid vehicle at a showroom in Tokyo. Japan's near-silent hybrid cars have been called dangerous by the vision-impaired and some users, prompting a government review on whether to add a noise-making device, according to an official.

Japan's near-silent hybrid cars have been called dangerous by the vision-impaired and some users, prompting a government review on whether to add a noise-making device, according to an official.

The petrol-electric vehicles, which in recent months have become the country's top-selling autos, hum along almost soundlessly when they are switched from fuel to battery mode.

"We have received opinions from automobile users and vision-impaired people that they feel hybrid vehicles are dangerous," a transport ministry official said.

"Blind people depend on sounds when they walk, but there are no engine sounds from when running at low speed" and on the electric motor, he said.

The ministry has launched a panel of scholars, vision-impaired groups, consumers, police and the to discuss the matter.

"They decided to consider introducing a sound-making function" in petrol-electric hybrids when the 13-member panel held its first meeting Thursday, the official said.

They have not decided on what kind of sound should be used, only that it should induce a response of caution, he said.

"On the other hand, we should pay attention to residents (along roads) as hybrids are excellent in reducing noise," the official added.

The panel is expected to draw up a report by the end of the year. Its proposal will be discussed at the ministry's committee on automobile safety before it could be drafted into legislation.

launched the world's most popular hybrid, the Prius, in 1997.

A cheaper, revamped , rolled out in Japan in late May, has been a huge hit, drawing orders for 200,000 units, according to Toyota. It recently became the best-selling car in Japan's domestic market.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Off-world manufacturing is a go with space printer

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Toyota rolls out new Prius to fend off rivals

May 18, 2009

Toyota Motor on Monday rolled out a cheaper, revamped Prius, seeking to boost its flagging sales and maintain its lead in fuel-sipping hybrids in the face of growing competition from rival Honda.

Toyota Not Too Keen On Plug-In Hybrids

May 22, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Toyota is recognized as one of the leaders in hybrid technology, so it may come as a surprise to some that the company is not terribly keen on selling hybrid plug-ins to consumers. Even though ...

Recommended for you

Off-world manufacturing is a go with space printer

19 hours ago

On Friday, the BBC reported on a NASA email exchange with a space station which involved astronauts on the International Space Station using their 3-D printer to make a wrench from instructions sent up in ...

First drone in Nevada test program crashes in demo

Dec 19, 2014

A drone testing program in Nevada is off to a bumpy start after the first unmanned aircraft authorized to fly without Federal Aviation Administration supervision crashed during a ceremony in Boulder City.

Fully automated: Thousands of blood samples every hour

Dec 19, 2014

Siemens is supplying automation technology for the longest and one of the most cutting-edge sample processing lines in any clinical laboratory. The line, or automation track, 200 meters long, in Marlborough, ...

Explainer: What is 4-D printing?

Dec 19, 2014

Additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – is 30 years old this year. Today, it's found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can p ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Bob_Wilson
5 / 5 (4) Jul 03, 2009
Over 500,000 Prius have been sold in the USA since 2001 and looking at the fatality accident reporting system (FARS) data, we found only 11, Prius-pedestrian fatalities. Based upon the expected number of miles per vehicle per year, this rate is no different from what ordinary gas-only vehicles. Notice that none of the proponents bring credible accident data because they can't find any either.



The real risk is by focusing on just 'noise makers,' effective accident prevention systems such as radar and camera based systems are being ignored. These systems work not only for hybrids but all vehicles to reduce not only vehicle-pedestrian accidents but vehicle-vehicle accidents.



This effort seeks to legislate the least effective solution for a very narrow group, 5 blind fatalities out of 4,700 pedestrian fatalities per year, less 0.1%. There comes a time when sensible people need to spend time and resources on what works for everyone.



The USA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) looked at this problem June 23, 2008 and held a hearing. The opposition research is available from the record found at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for NHTSA-2008-0108-0020. The supporting legislation, H.R. 734 and S. 841 needs to be stopped.



Bob Wilson, Huntsville AL
Nan2
4 / 5 (1) Jul 03, 2009
Good work BW: Whatcha wanna bet our future cars are going to play downloadable tones for a fee just like your cell phone! lol. If that happens, I've finding a cave somewhere as if I don't, I'll die a premature death from terminal annoyance.
goldengod
2.5 / 5 (2) Jul 03, 2009
Why bother with a crappy built in system when you can install a massive sound system in the boot hooked up to a couple of cats and achieve over 140db or enough power to project your soundz over 2 km on a still day.

Adding a simple low range (20 meters) non intrusive bass frequency pulse for sight impaired will be a lot easier on the ears than most car engines. It may even have the added side effect of making us all feel happy as bass frequencies are proven to increase theta(?) brainwave activity that enhances the feeling of happiness and relaxation in most people. Hence the reliance of deep bass frequencies in all modern pop and dance music.
Nik_2213
not rated yet Jul 05, 2009
Didn't RollsRoyce face this problem ? IIRC, they fitted a louder clock...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.