The big hurt from hybrids

John Taylor: February 14, 20070 Comments

It's the law of unintended consequences.

Blind people say their lives are at risk because the Toyota Prius hybrid is nearly silent when its engine is idling or running at low speeds. The Wall Street Journal quoted the National Federation of the Blind as saying all hybrids should emit a sound whenever they're being operated.

The story quoted a Toyota spokesman as saying the hoopla was news to him, that pedestrians and drivers need to watch out for one another and that one of the hybrid's benefits is a reduction in traffic noise pollution.

I wonder what the debate was like when trucks were required to automatically beep when backing up, or when vehicle tail lights needed to show a different color on backing.  How about when scent was added as a safety feature to natural gas?

While we have pollution on the table, what can be done to stamp out the scratch-and-sniff cologne mailers that come with department store ads? We are engulfed in particulates, pollen and Albuterol inhalers -- and in too many carefree types who burn whatever in their fireplaces.

A final note: the Sacramento Business Journal reported that, effective Feb. 14, Kaiser Permanente has banned smoking at all of its Sacramento-area campuses, including outdoor areas and leased buildings.  Translation: there are no more designated smoking areas.