Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hybrid Autos: Silent But Deadly?

My next automobile will be a hybrid. Of that I have no doubt. I’ve previously chased off that notion because of the extra added surcharges you get to pay when you take a hybrid in for servicing. But with gas here in Texas over $3.50 and oil futures making records with each and every passing day, it looks like buying a hybrid is not only cost effective right now, but for the foreseeable future.

I lean toward the Honda Prius because of all the rice burners I have ever owned, Honda has been the best. But now we come to hear about a new threat that these cars are to the unsuspecting: they’re too darned quiet.

Four generations of Americans have lived with automobile traffic. Sometimes human flesh and bone has mixed it up with chrome, steel and (now) plastics and composites; sometimes to a fatal end for human or auto (or both). One preventative measure we humans have adopted over the decades is to listen for oncoming traffic. And truly, for the legally blind, that is most certainly a primary deterrence to getting mashed to atoms by oncoming traffic.

But now, with the advent of quiet battery-driven hybrids that can steal about town in complete silence, the human race is faced with either solving the global warming pickle we find ourselves in, or becoming future road kill by muted stealth machines.

The video on this can be viewed at CNN.

Now it sounds to me like something’s got to give. If humans are unwilling to adapt to these quiet machines of death, they are going to have to put some kind of noise maker on the cars to warn people that one of these silent but deadly autos is in the neighborhood. It could be as easy as legislating that hybrid owners must cruise the neighborhoods with their drivers’ side window down and their left hand manipulating a pair of maracas. Or maybe a tambourine.

Who knows, it might make for some interesting jam sessions at long traffic lights.


M.A. Shelley said...

The Prius is made by Toyota, not Honda. Honda makes a hybrid Civic and Accord.

Hal said...

Oh well, there goes that idea. Toyotas really suck.

Anonymous said...

We love our 2007 Prius and get excellent mileage. I have actually gotten 60.4 mpg whereas my husband generally gets from 47 - 50--but I've turned into a real gas Nazi.
Re: quiet engine. Tis true. When he pulls into our garage, the only sound that can be heard outside is the loud radio. The beauty of this product is that the engine completely cuts off while stopped at red lights. No gas is used. Do blind people crash into the side of our car because it's silent? Not so far. Would an awareness program help--maybe.