WASHINGTON, Dec. 16, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 841, The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, legislation that will provide blind, visually impaired, and other pedestrians greater security when traveling in close proximity to hybrid or electric vehicles.
"The passage of this legislation is momentous and marks over two years of vigorous advocacy by ACB membership that has resulted in consensus by the blind community, auto industry, and Congress," stated Mitch Pomerantz, President of the American Council of the Blind.
"The silent nature of hybrid and electric vehicles, coupled with their growing popularity, presents a dilemma. How do we protect individuals dependent on sound for their safety, such as unsuspecting pedestrians and the blind?" said Representative Edolphus Towns, the sponsor of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, who spent many years teaching travel with a white cane to the blind. "The solution lies in the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. I am proud to have supported this important piece of legislation."
"The visually impaired rely on audio cues to detect nearby traffic and these quiet vehicles pose a special risk to them and to other pedestrians," stated Rep. Cliff Stearns, who joined in offering the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. "This measure enjoys the support of all of the interested parties and it is budget neutral, and I look forward to the President quickly signing this bill."
The legislation will require the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin writing standards that would set requirements for an alert sound that allows blind and other pedestrians to reasonably detect a nearby electric or hybrid vehicle. It also requires that those rules be finalized within three years.
ACB wishes to express its sincere appreciation to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) along with Reps. Ed Towns (D-N.Y.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) for their staunch leadership over the past two years regarding this very important safety issue. The National Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Association of International Automobile Manufacturers have also worked collaboratively with the blind community to insure that the legislation could effectively resolve the current and growing unintended safety problems that hybrid and electric vehicles present to the public when traveling at low speeds.
About the American Council of the Blind
The American Council of the Blind is the largest consumer-based organization of blind and visually impaired Americans advocating for the rights of blind Americans. Comprised of more than 70 affiliates across the United States, the organization is dedicated to making it possible for blind and visually impaired Americans to participate fully in all aspects of American society. For more information, visit http://www.acb.org; write to American Council of the Blind, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201; phone (202) 467-5081; or fax (703) 465-5085.
Eric Bridges, Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs
American Council of the Blind
SOURCE American Council of the Blind