March 06, 2007
The high pitched squeal of small carbon footprints
A safety Nazi I am not.
Nor am I much of an environmentalist.
As Priuses have proliferated from the do-gooder niche into the mainstream, their drivers have gotten as rude and aggressive as anyone else. Ruder, in my experience. I think they feel entitled because of their small carbon footprint. ... P.S.: And you can't hear them coming.I don't know about the carbon footprint entitlement deal, but boy, can I testify to the latter! While out running the other day, I came to an intersection and with an SUV sitting there making not a sound, as if the engine had died or the driver had shut off the ignition. Because this was a bit puzzling, I slowed down, and I was quite disconcerted by the fact that the driver was staring at me impatiently, as if he wanted to go! It made absolutely no sense, but I wasn't about to offer to help someone who obviously did not want me even looking at him. As soon as I passed in front of the car, it zoomed forward, and then I heard the motor, which didn't seem loud enough. I looked, and sure enough, I could read "PRIUS" as it turned.
You'd think that with all the money these things cost, they could make a little traditional, you know, noise? Let people know there's an SUV coming? I mean, the electronic cash registers they've got in most 7/11s would be dead quiet but for the speaker which plays the "kachink kaching" sound, and the reason they do it is to reassure customers that the transaction is actually taking place.
As I see it, if you can hear a cash register you ought to be able to hear a car. Now, I'm not trying to make this mandatory. As a libertarian I believe in free choices. But shouldn't there be at least a digitally prerecorded engine noise as optional equipment for these SUVs? (Or do we have to wait until we hear this sound?)
Blind activist groups are trying to make them mandatory, but I wouldn't go that far.
But on the other hand what about those stupid and annoying back up beeps that all trucks and forklifts have to make? Are workers in factories considered more worthy of protection than ordinary pedestrians?
Sooner or later, there will be an accident, and of course a lawsuit. And it won't be the reasonable prudent Prius drivers who will force a change in the design, either. The ones most likely to get sued are the pushy, I'm-saving-the-environment-so-I can-do-whatever-I-want, talk-on-my-cell-phone-about about-saving-the-world, not-looking-at the-road types.
I certainly hope there isn't such a "type," but my instincts tell me there is. My instincts also tell me that pushy and silent is a potentially deadly combination.
And you don't have to be blind to not hear them coming.
posted by Eric on 03.06.07 at 02:48 PM
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