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Discussion Starter #1
Yes, stealth driving can be hazardous!

While driving in a crowded shopping center parking lot, I came within inches of a pedesterian walking into my Prius. A young woman was looking in the opposite direction, and suddenly started walking across the lane without looking in my direction. It was only her good reflexes that saved us from a serious accident.

Is there a cure for this? I really cherish the quiet of my car, but now see stealth as a potential hazard. I would not suggest making the Prius noisy all the time. Has anyone here thought of adding a beeper (such as used by trucks, fork-lifts, etc.) that could be _manually_ activated when driving at low speeds (parking lots, side streets crowded with children, etc.)?

Any suggestions?

Steve
Maple Ridge, BC (Canada)
 
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Discussion Starter #2
You could allways just turn your radio up really loud :)

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Discussion Starter #3
> I came within inches of a pedesterian walking into my Prius.

All fuel-cell, all electric, and some hybrid vehicles are dead quiet. So this problem is going to become much more common.

I felt really uncomfortable passing some bikers the other day. They couldn't ride near the edge of the street since there's still an inch deep of sand left over from winter ice-control. So I followed them in stealth, not knowing if I had be noticed, until it was safe for me to pass in the other lane. I'm not sure how much that would really help though. While driving a Reliant (which had a very noisy 4-cylinder engine) about 15 years ago, a biker smashed into the back quarter-panel *after* I passed him while driving only 10 MPH.

Once I also watched a someone talking on a cell-phone step out in front of loud diesel bus. That person didn't even notice until the bus came to an abrupt halt just a few feet from him.

And yes, I've had quite a few people step out in front of my Prius. On one occasion, it was a dark area with my lights shining right on the guys legs. He was so preoccuppied with talking to his friends that non-blatant sound wouldn't have made a difference. The bright headlights certainly didn't. So I honked. That did the trick.

I suggest you use the horn too.

The shock from the experience will probably protect that person the rest of their life. From that point on, they will likely always remember to look before stepping out into the street.

Also, it works out as a fantastic sales pitch. The guy in the dark got all his friends to come over and check out the Prius. Any anger he may have had from me honking instantly turned into uncontrollable excitement upon having unexpectedly discovered what electric propulsion is like.

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Discussion Starter #4
> Is there a cure for this?

Pedestrian responsibility would help ... they are SUPPOSED to look both ways, and many need to re-learn the behavior. :)

Maintaining an appropriate speed in parking lots is the other half of the equation. If you're really doing only 7-10 mph, you're more able to be able to stop suddenly or in a short distance. If you can't, you'll do FAR less damage to a human than if you're doing even 15 mph.

(If we didn't have SUVs and vans filling parking lots, you'd be able to see the heads and shoulders of most people as they walk between cars, and they could see over cars to see you too. But that's another thread entirely.)

peace,
Linda
--
'01 Electric Green,
purchased/picked up 8/14/01
16,767 miles as of yesterday
Madison, WI
 
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Discussion Starter #5
> Pedestrian responsibility would help ... they are SUPPOSED to look both
> ways, and many need to re-learn the behavior. :)

This isn't funny. Any accident involving a vehicle and a pedestrian is the driver's responsibility. Maybe this woman _has_ learned to look, as well as listen, but what about the next person? Yes, I was driving _very_ slowly at the time. I did not anticipate this pedestrian making such a sudden move. There was another car in front of me (also moving slowly), and I was just one car length behind.

I pride myself in being a careful and responsible driver. I stay focused on events around me, and try to anticipate what will happen next. I simply did not anticipate this -- there was no clue... Frankly, there wasn't even time to hit the horn. This pedestrian started walking (quickly) when my right fender was just even with her -- while she was looking away from me.

As suggested by John, this "problem" is apt to become more common with an increase in the number of electric and hybrid vehicles. From my perspective, the silence of stealth driving is not only a hazard -- it is a design flaw (think about this)! To be sure, the hearing-impaired must learn to compensate using vision -- no problem here... Similarly, if I saw someone standing with a white cane, I would try to honk or make other noises. I'd rather not have to use my horn...

In my opinion, we should at least have the option of making some kind of warning sound to alert unwary pedestrians and cyclists. I like to brag to others about my "green" car being good for our environment. I also want it to be safe for those around me!
 
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Discussion Starter #6
How about keeping the running lights on all the time? Might not completely solve the problem, but could help a bit in being more noticeable.
 
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Discussion Starter #7
> How about keeping the running lights on all the time?

A pulsing series of small red lights on the front would make the car noticable.

Whoa! 80's flashback!! There was a certain high-tech car back then that had that...

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Discussion Starter #8
> How about keeping the running lights on all the time? Might not
> completely solve the problem, but could help a bit in being more
> noticeable.

I already have daytime running lights. All Canadian vehicles are equipped with them. In fact the base-model Prius has all options, except for NAV.

> A pulsing series of small red lights on the front would make the car
> noticable. Whoa! 80's flashback!! There was a certain high-tech car back
> then that had that...

Maybe _that's_ the answer, we need sensors feeding an onboard (AI) computer that would say (politely), "Ahem! Pardon me, but I am about to drive by you. Please take care..."

To be honest, the only "built-in" solution mentioned was John's: Turn the radio up high enough (with the windows opened) so that pedestrians will be aware of you.

Steve
Maple Ridge, BC (Canada)
 
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Discussion Starter #9
I've always thought there needed to be a "hello" horn as well as a "hey!" horn. Something that's not intended to pierce hermetically-sealed cars with radios on max volume, but rather, to serve as polite notification to pedestrians, bicyclists, or just that person on the corner with whom you work.

Or, taking a cue from synthesizer technology, velocity-sensitive horns. Push it lightly, it beeps lightly. Wail on it, and everyone's ears pop.
 
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Discussion Starter #10
Re: hazards of stealth (

From the mailing list ment for the group

And get the sound to go along with the lights, then we'd really have the
answer! (active only below 15 mph, of course...)

Pete
 
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Discussion Starter #11
from the mailing list, ment for the group

Maybe we could put a bell on the Prius as is required of bicyclists in the
Netherlands (or a bulb horn). :)

dan in orlando
 
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Discussion Starter #12
I have had a lot of close calls too, mostly in WalMart supercenter parking lots. Since it's fairly level, I usually let the car creep at 3 or 4 MPH max, with my right foot ready for the brake. I believe a good solution would be one of those rubber air Bull Horns like they had on the old Model T Fords. One of these mounted behind the front bumper would sure Stop-em when you squeezed it. would also get plenty of attention. Most people now-a-days are so stupid they walk with their heads to the ground and don't even know where they are going!

Don Good
 
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Discussion Starter #13
How about turning up the heat, front defroster or AC to have the engine start.
 
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Discussion Starter #14
How about driver and pedestrian responsibility - look before you cross any road. Animals are always getting squashed because they don't look. They are squashed by Trucks (real loud trucks), and People are getting hit by real big trains (real loud trains too). I think the simple answer is - If you want to survive then you look before you cross. And the driver - If you don't want to be arrested or sued (after squashing the dumb pedestrian), then you look out and drive defensively.

Design Flaw? What a laugh - Has anyone ever heard of noise abatement restrictions?

Jiminee...

Steve Dickerson
'02 super white 11,000 miles - warm weather = Lots of Stealth.

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks Steve, you saved me from saying my peace on the subject.
 
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Discussion Starter #17
> Design Flaw? What a laugh - Has anyone ever heard of noise abatement
> restrictions?

I find your point-of-view, frankly, irresponsible. You can argue all you want that drivers and pedestrians must be responsible, and accidents are the result of poor judgement on the part of either or both. If an engineering change can be made to improve vehicle safety, I say, "Let's do it!"

My house is in a cul-de-sac with lots of kids playing near or in the road. As much as I hate to do it, I have to lean on my horn to alert the kids that I am coming down the street -- otherwise, they have no clue. Yes, I drive _very_ slowly in areas like that. Unfortunately, slow driving makes the Prius even quieter (tire noise is nil).

There was a suggestion here (by "mho") for either a two-level horn, or one that was pressure or velocity sensitive. That's not a bad idea. I'd rather give a polite "toot" that does not disturb anyone, than turn my quiet suburban neighborhood into sounding like downtown New York.

Bottom line, Steve: You can be the most safety-conscious, responsible, and skilled driver there is, but if someone is struck and injured by your car, it becomes your responsibility.

I stand by my earlier remarks. Stealth driving can place pedestrians at greater risk.

Steve
Maple Ridge, BC (Canada)
 
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Discussion Starter #18
I believe you need to ask your local Law enforcement about your local and state laws in reference to who's fault it is if a pedestrian gets hit. I was a police officer and I can tell you that if the person walks out in front of you and doesnt yield the right of way to you, then its his fault. Any police officer with common sense is not going to haul you in, (unless you have been drinking). If the pedestrian is in a crosswalk or designated pedestrian crossing and you hit them, then I can see the problem.

Sure no one wants go through life knowing you hit someone with your car no matter what the scenario is. Life must go on, and you as well as everyone else must drive your cars. If the matter is worrying you so much sell your Prius and get something that you think a pedestrian would hear.

I can tell you out of experience, it wouldnt matter if you were driving a Semi-truck. Some people walking will still not look where they are going. kids (some) this day and age know your there but out of disrespect will push the limit with you and dare to see how close you come to them.

I can also tell you that even though it may not be your fault if you hit someone, there is a very likely event that they will try to sue you in a civil court.

Just be more alert in store parking lots. If you have someone walking with their back to you as you are in "Stealth mode" then drive as if they will probably walk out in front of you. I do this anyway no matter what im driving. Driving is a big responsibility and we should always be defensive driving not offensive driving.

Hope this clears things up for you.

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Discussion Starter #19
>I find your point-of-view, frankly, irresponsible. You can argue all you >want that drivers and pedestrians must be responsible, and accidents >are the result of poor judgement on the part of either or both. If an >engineering change can be made to improve vehicle safety, I say, "Let's >do it!"

For over a hundred years - since the onset of automobiles - the general population has complained that they were noisy and dirty. Now we are on the advent of clean and quiet cars, and now the population says make them noisy? How about turn your headlights on, use the horn, yell out the window, look before crossing, use some good judgement. What engineering change do you suggest to make the car more visable? It already has a horn, it has DRLs (if you bought them), it also has a driver (usually).

I am not going to argue on a Prius web site about responsibility any more and I will not answer to any other "frank" statements. Everyone has some element of responsibility - thats why some of us bought this car - to help out the environment (all of our responsibilities). I look everytime I walk across a car area - be it a parking lot or road. My parents taught me that and spanked the hell out of me if I didn't look.

I would hope parents teach their kids that sort of responsibility too.

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Discussion Starter #20
Sorry one more note - I just remembered about a time a few years ago when a friend and I helped out an injured 10 year old child who was hit by a full size (noisy) pick up truck. The child simply did not pay attention to the road and drove his bicycle into the path of the truck driver. The child was at fault - no doubt. I felt real sorry for the driver of the truck because there was nothing he could do about that situation. The parents (I feel) were also at fault for not impressing upon the child a great respect for the rules of the road. No engineering change to the truck could have stopped the injuries to the child. None! The child had to obey the rules of the road and didn't. The truck could have had 3 level horns or automatic radar that blew the horn if something go in the way or something, but the child drove his bike into the truck. That area was a very hi traffic, noisy area and a low level horn would not have been heard by anyone.

The child survived, but was in the hospital for about 3 weeks and out of school for about 2 or 3 months. His injuries consisted of compound fracture of the forearm, internal bleeding/injuries and head injuries .. the child also was not wearing a helmet. He was real lucky and maybe learned something.

I hope every parent impresses the importance of road rule observation on their kids.

Sorry responsibility hits one of my pet peave nerves.

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