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Public Statements

Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BARROW. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, as hybrid and electric vehicles take hold in the market, they bring lots of benefits to consumers trying to shield themselves from rising gas prices and help reduce our Nation's dependence on foreign oil, but the near-silent operation of their combustion-free engines has presented unintended challenges for blind and sighted pedestrians.

NHTSA research, including a study published in April this year, confirms that the absence of sounds indicating vehicle movement can create serious safety risks for blind and sighted pedestrians, unable to detect vehicles as they back up, turn, or approach an intersection.

Earlier, NHTSA research found that hybrid and electric vehicles are two times more likely to be involved in a pedestrian collision at a low speed than conventional vehicles. Blind pedestrians are among the most vulnerable; but cyclists, seniors, and children are also among those greatly affected as the number of hybrid and electric vehicles on the road increases.

The bill before us offers a straightforward solution directing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to create a standard for hybrid and electric vehicles to emit appropriate conforming sounds when traveling at low speeds. In addition, the bill gives the agency 3 years to develop the standard, gives manufacturers a 3-year phase-in period, calls on NHTSA to consider the overall community noise impact, and protects against the unauthorized disabling, modification, or replacement of the sounds.

I am pleased that the bill has received strong support from the National Federation of the Blind and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. I commend manufacturers of hybrid and electric vehicles that have already stepped forward to work with NHTSA to address this serious safety issue.

I also want to thank my chairman, Chairman RUSH, and my colleagues, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Towns) and the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Stearns), for their leadership on this issue, which has a strong record of bipartisan awareness and support. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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