January 8th, 2011
President Obama has signed into law S.841, known as the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act (http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-s841/show). The primary goal is to ensure that pedestrians have some sort of warning about the proximity of vehicles which move much more silently than most people are accustomed to — namely, electric and hybrid vehicles.
While all pedestrians stand to benefit from this legislation, this will be a significant benefit to the blind. Currently, the noise of traffic provides a myriad of sound clues which enable the blind to perceive their environment and warn them of possible dangers. As electric and hybrid vehicles do not produce anywhere near the same level of sound, the increasingly widespread use of such vehicles creates an unforeseen risk.
Obviously “the blind, like all pedestrians, must be able to travel to work, to school, to church, and to other places in our communities, and we must be able to hear vehicles in order to do so,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the NFB (National Federation of the Blind)(http://www.nfb.org).
“This law, which is the result of collaboration among blind Americans, automobile manufacturers, and legislators, will benefit all pedestrians for generations to come as new vehicle technologies become more prevalent. We look forward to working with the Department of Transportation throughout the regulatory process.”
Other potential safety related regulations include tort reform, in particular, rules that may impact certain outdoor industries like ski resorts and golf related businesses. These are far reaching ‘reforms’ that may influence insurance premiums on equipment from ski boots to kids golf clubs. Most don’t realize the numbers of skiers and golfers who get injured doing nothing other than enjoying the outdoors. Whether or not you’re a golfer or an observer, if these laws become enacted, you may be impacted in unexpected ways. Stay tuned.
We’re also keeping an eye on HR 31 and HR 237, bills that could have an effect on home mortgage refinancing regulation. Keep us bookmarked for more updates as we get them!
The simple fact of the matter is that there are far too many accidents involving pedestrians. There is no reason a person in a 2,000 lbs. car or truck should not know exactly what is in front of them at all times. That said there are many pedestrians who take their own lives into their hands far too often by crossing in front of traffic without care for safety. They are often times not even in crosswalks when they are hit. This is costing us a lot of lives every single day across this great country & it is really all about carelessness when it comes right down to it. We ALL need to be a little more careful when we are on the road together.