he four organizations are urging Congress to adopt and pass the language as part of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010–which is currently pending in both houses of Congress–as quickly as possible. The proposed language would require the Department of Transportation to promulgate a motor vehicle safety standard requiring automobiles to emit a minimum level of sound to alert the blind and other pedestrians.
Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: "The National Federation of the Blind commends the automobile industry for its leadership on this issue and for its genuine concern for the safety of blind Americans, cyclists, runners, small children, and other pedestrians. We look forward to working with the parties to this agreement, the United States Congress, and the Department of Transportation to ensure that America’s streets remain safe, both for those who drive and for those who do not."
"Good policy is a collaborative effort, and this is a good approach for pedestrians and automakers," said Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
Because blind pedestrians cannot locate and evaluate traffic using their vision, they must listen to traffic to discern its speed, direction, and other attributes in order to travel safely and independently. Other people, including pedestrians who are not blind, cyclists, runners, seniors, and small children, also benefit from hearing the sound of vehicle engines. New electric vehicles that employ hybrid or electric engine technology can be silent, rendering them extremely dangerous in situations where vehicles and pedestrians come into proximity with each other.
A recent report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that hybrid and electric vehicles are nearly twice as likely to be involved in accidents with pedestrians as vehicles with internal combustion engines.
With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States. The NFB improves blind people’s lives through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence. It is the leading force in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation’s blind. In January 2004 the NFB opened the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, the first research and training center in the United States for the blind led by the blind.