The Next “Safety” Jihad

When things get ridiculous they tend to become hilarious.

Or, pathetic – and aggravating.

Example: The government 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 – whoops, visually impaired – people being run over by hybrid and electric vehicles.

Well, no.

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

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

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I could not find more recent data, but unless there has been an Vesuvius-like eruption of the number of blind folks being flattened by hybrids, it is probably still a very small number.

But the individual cases, when they do occur, make for highly combustible Oh-the-humanity! media coverage. Just as the individual cases of an addled, sail fawn-gabbling parent inadvertently backing their car over a toddler did … and became the source waters of yet another Safety Jihad that led to yet another obnoxious, needless and grossly expensive new law, this one requiring that every single new vehicle be fitted with a rear back-up camera. Which all new cars now have – and which we all get to pay for, whether we even have a toddler to potentially run over being entirely beside the point.

Now, the jihadis are ululating that the hundreds of thousands of hybrid and electric cars sold annually be fitted with noisemakers – waterproof speakers, which will eruct 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 a dozen or maybe a score of blind people have either been run over by – or walked into – a hybrid or electric car.

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