Sunday, July 11, 2010

Listen To The Sound Of Silence

I read an article in the San Diego paper last week that said law makers were considering legislation to require electric cars to make noise.  Apparently there is concern that this stealth capability of electric cars will result in people, especially the blind, being hit by cars. (Perhaps I should say people will be blind-sided by stealthy electric cars.)  While I appreciate the government's interest in keeping us safe, is this really a governmental priority?  Of all of the unsafe and unhealthy things in our environment, do we really need more noise?

When I started complaining to my family about this potential new regulation, they jumped right in to find fault with my arguments.  My brother immediately began listing the flaws in my position.  He is not an advocate of noise, he just likes to argue.

The discussion moved on to how the noise requirement might be carried out.  Someone suggested a bumper sensor that would activate noise when another human or car was within range.  This set off another debate about which animals were worthy of being saved from a stealth attack.  Would the sensor have to detect a dog?  a cat?  a rabbit?  a snake?

Why do we only care about the visually impaired?  Shouldn't we be considering the needs of hearing impaired people?  Perhaps we should require all cars to be highly visible...paint them yellow with red stripes and require flashing disco lights. 

If the noise requirement is implemented, my family suggests that electric car owners be able to personalize their noise.  "Car noise tones" could be downloaded for 99 cents.  Imagine a line of cars stopped at the crosswalk, each car chirping like a bird or blaring "Who let the dogs out?"

Do we really need more noise in our lives?  Is this a real safety issue or needless governmental oversight?  Why isn't the Tea Party whining about this government intrusion?

Author's note:  I'm writing this little story at the commuter terminal at the San Diego airport while waiting for my delayed flight to Los Angeles. A toddler in a stroller has been screaming for the past half an hour while the mother clicks away on her laptop and occasionally tries to shove a bottle of juice in his mouth.  Two chubby children and an adult male sitting with her ignore the child's screams and sit passively staring off into space.  Where's the law about this noise?


  1. maybe put wistles on the cars like they do for deer prone country?

  2. I heard about the electric car noise issue the other day and wondered whether we'll have our Prius recalled to install a noise maker. But I must say, your family's conversation about noise went beyond my considerations!

    Personally, I love snowfalls because they muffle noise. I wonder what life was like when houses were silent at night - no sounds of heaters going on and off, no refrigerator ice makers dropping their cubes into buckets, no cars going by too fast outside.

  3. I personally think we need more stillness, not more noise. Surely there are better ways to solve that problem. I love your family's potential solutions.



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