Saturday, April 12, 2008

In support of our silent Prius

While I am no Libertarian with a capital L, I often share with students the perennial contention that the best argument for libertarianism is our nation's ridiculous mishmash of alcohol laws -- none of which, arguably, accomplishes anything but fund-raising for various governments. Students who are not yet 21, or barely past it, always nod enthusiastically.

Now I have another example: The National Federation of the Blind's campaign to mandate louder hybrid cars.

I suspect that most jurisdictions already have laws on the books designed to prevent the negligent running over of blind people -- or, for that matter, sighted people. If laws were enough to prevent such incidents, presumably such incidents already would have been eliminated from the American scene. And if those laws didn't do the job, what good will further laws do?

We bought our Prius in late July 2007, and it took us only about a week to realize that at the slowest speeds -- in parking lots and on our residential street, for example -- pedestrians just couldn't hear the thing, so we had to watch out for them. But we always watch out for pedestrians anyway, even when we're driving the (comparatively) noisy Subaru. Aren't all Prius drivers doing this, and if not, aren't there ways to penalize the careless drivers, rather than the vehicle owners as a class? Don't we need to do everything we can to encourage hybrid cars and trucks, rather than discourage them?

On a recent round-trip drive to New York City in my Prius, I averaged better than 50 miles per gallon. If every four-door automobile in the United States got that mileage, wouldn't we be a lot better off -- even if every one were silent, not on the highway but at golf-cart speeds? Isn't the need to use less and less petroleum, rather than more and more, a larger concern that the fear of a fleet of silent Priuses re-enacting Death Race 2000?

Finally, given the constant noise pollution that blights the life of every urban American, blind or sighted, shouldn't we welcome silent cars?

1 comment:

Tracy Miller said...

AMEN, BROTHER! As the owner of my second and third hybrid vehicles, I agree, wholeheartedly. One of my FAVORITE things about my hybrid is how quiet it is.

I think people who buy hybrids are probably more considerate of pedestrians anyway, just because of the kind of folks they are.