The high pitched squeal of small carbon footprints

A safety Nazi I am not.

Nor am I much of an environmentalist.

But I was very curious to know what Glenn Reynolds meant when he referred to "pushy Prius drivers," and Mickey Kaus explained:

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










Comments

Oh please, not the reverse beeps. I detest that level of sound at that pitch.

What about whistles, like they make for alerting animals in rural areas? I'm sure some bright engineer can make one that doesn't annoy too badly. And for an extra $5, you could noise-cancel the whistle's pitch for the interior of the car.

O'course, that doesn't do much for your stationary SUV problem, but (not to put too fine a point on it) neither is it that big of a problem.

Socrates   ·  March 6, 2007 5:29 PM

This is a real problem. I've had a similar level of dificulty with those new, ultra-high power headlights. I can barely see anything if someone is in front of me with those at almost any range.

Not sure what the solution is, but, thankfully, that isn't my job. My job is just to bitch until someone fixes it for me!

Jon Thompson   ·  March 6, 2007 7:45 PM

I just found out that Saturn (GM) is now offering a green SUV that gets about 33mgp for ... GASP ... $23K.

Now you can be pushy, snobbish AND patriotic!

mdmhvonpa   ·  March 6, 2007 10:51 PM

Saturn has a green SUV?

I'd rather have a red or black one. It's more manly, and I'm compensating.

Socrates   ·  March 6, 2007 11:20 PM

mdmhvonpa:
Check the consumer reports mileage. The EPA mileage isn't very accurate for a number of reasons.

Jon Thompson   ·  March 8, 2007 4:15 AM

Nevermind, I just looked it up. The vue green line gets 27 miles to the gallon on the highway and 21 in the city, which isn't much better than my fifteen year old SUV.

Jon Thompson   ·  March 8, 2007 4:25 AM

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