U.S. Representatives Edolphus Towns and Cliff Stearns Introduce Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, NFB Applauds Measure

January 28, 2009 12:17 PM Eastern Time  

National Federation of the Blind Press Release

Christopher S. Danielsen
Director of Public Relations
National Federation of the Blind
(410) 659-9314, extension 2330
(410) 262-1281 (Cell)

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Representatives Edolphus “Ed” Towns (D-NY) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL) today introduced H.R. 734, a bill intended to protect the blind and other pedestrians from injury or death as a result of silent vehicle technology. The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 requires the Secretary of Transportation to conduct a study on how to protect the blind and others from being injured or killed by vehicles using hybrid, electric, and other silent engine technologies. Thirty-two original co-sponsors have already signed on to the bill.

Because blind pedestrians cannot locate and evaluate traffic using their vision, they must listen to traffic to discern its speed, direction, and other attributes in order to travel safely and independently. Other people, including pedestrians who are not blind, bicyclists, runners, and small children, also benefit from hearing the sound of vehicle engines. New vehicles that employ hybrid or electric engine technology can be silent, rendering them extremely dangerous in situations where vehicles and pedestrians come into proximity with each other.

“The National Federation of the Blind appreciates the wise and decisive action taken today by Congressmen Towns and Stearns to preserve the right to safe and independent travel for the blind,” said Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “The blind, like all pedestrians, must be able to travel to work, to school, to church, and to other places in our communities without being injured or killed. This bill will benefit all pedestrians for generations to come as new vehicle technologies become more prevalent. The blind of America will do everything in our power to ensure its swift passage.”

“The beneficial trend toward more environmentally friendly vehicles has had the unintended effect of placing the blind and other pedestrians in danger,” said Representative Towns. “As someone who taught travel with a white cane to the blind for many years, I understand that the sound of traffic is critically important in order for them to travel safely and independently. This bill will prevent many injuries and fatalities while still allowing more clean vehicles on our nation’s roads.”

“I understand the safety concerns of blind pedestrians with these quiet automobiles; I have heard the same concerns from senior citizens in my district, and I appreciate the threat to children, bicyclists, and runners,” said Representative Stearns. “I deeply appreciate the support of all parties in supporting this important safety legislation.”

The bill requires the Secretary of Transportation, within ninety days of its enactment, to commence a two-year study to determine the best means to provide the blind and other pedestrians with information about the location, motion, speed, and direction of vehicles. Upon completion of the study, the Secretary will report the findings of the study to Congress and, within ninety days, establish a minimum vehicle safety standard for all new vehicles sold in the United States. Automobile manufacturers will have two years to comply with the vehicle safety standard.

One thought on “U.S. Representatives Edolphus Towns and Cliff Stearns Introduce Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, NFB Applauds Measure”

  1. Take those “killing equipment” with the name ‘smart car’ off the road, it is extreamly hazardous to the blind. Cars must make nose.

    Please read my reccomendations about pedestrian safety.

    It is no secret that the volume of pedestrian accidents is alarming. There are no arguments that something must be done to stop sending people to their graves regardless of their age or status. Steps must urgently be taken to reduce this annual fiasco of over 6,000 mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends and relatives who’s lives are being snuffed out each year thus leaving family and friends grieving, As well as more then 15,000 severely wounded, never to recover. The question is can that frightening predicament be solved? The answer is 90 percent of these calamity’s can be avoided. Many accidents earns unjustified the term “accident” but should rather be called homicide. A substantial amount of accidents can be credited to bad traffic laws. As a driver for 10 years who is constantly on the road, and as a “safety” activist who wrote many articles in various newspapers regarding “safety” matters, I would like to share my opinions. I strongly urge everyone who has the authority, to help enforce my suggestions, thus saving countless lives.

    One of the most crimes on our world is the fact that a pedestrian has no right to cross the street. The sign may say walk, but a vehicle comes speeding from the other street and turns in. it won’t be exaggerated to say, that, (in smaller streets) it is safer to cross in the middle of the street then by the corner. By the corner you have no control whatsoever what is going on in the other street. The law is very dry. “If the pedestrian is on the road the vehicle must stop”, but parked vehicles are blocking the whew, and the only time the driver of that vehicle gets to know that he must stop is only when he gets to the intersection and he sees the pedestrian. Should a law like this be a called, “a protection for pedestrians?” that a driver who runs a 3,000 pound of metal and plastic at a speed of 25 M.P.O. should be told to stop at a range on 10 – 20 ft. (only by bigger avenues, the light will be red for both sides of the street while pedestrians are crossing.) I am shocked to see on the internet one accident after the other from vehicles that turned into a street and knocked down a pedestrian in the crosswalk. The driver claimed that the pedestrian wasn’t in the middle of the road when he arrived at the intersection, and the pedestrian is dead and doesn’t say anything, and the joke goes on. What it’s worrisome, is the fact that even if the driver of the turning vehicle is careful, hazards will remain. Consider that one. Here is a two-way street and a driver wants to make a left turn, so he waits for a gape in the lane of the opposite direction. Traffic is busy and let the anxious driver wait for a while thus holding up a huge line of cars (and many times there horn honking is like a big orchestra) who are making his nerves dissolving. Finely some gape is created. The anxious driver accelerates franticly and makes his turn. In the same time a pedestrian is in the crosswalk. What is going to happen? Will signs on the street urging drivers to “stop for pedestrians” prevent anything? I myself had recently such awful story when I once made a left turn from a two-way street. I always use extra caution so I still managed to stop, but many drivers would already hit the two girls who were on there way home from school.
    The concern is even further, people feel that they are not safe in the crosswalk, so they end up jaywalking which decreases safety and increases accidents. We must make crosswalks really safe so a responsible lady or gentlemen have a choice to cross the street safely.

    There are some laws, that, although they are vital, they are never heeded by drivers. As a school bus driver, I always look at other school buses as they pull out of a parking by the school and must back up, that they aren’t going to the back of the bus to see if somebody is behind. The law in the book is very firm not to back without doing this procedure. In the mid of December ’08, a lady was crushed to dead because of that. One most not be very smart to understand that backing a large vehicle while relying just on the side-whew mirrors is like driving half blind. You never know what’s behind you. It is not school buses who commit this crime, from all of the many thousands larger vehicles who fill the streets in New York, you won’t found even 1 percent who will go out to make sure nobody is behind. The question is why the law is not issuing tickets to such violators. The only thing which scares drivers, is, tickets. People who got killed don’t matter. Yung kids, who will be left in a coma for their entire life, won’t make people change their driving habit, the silly 150$ will do it, it seems that this vital rule (to walk to the back before reversing) is just a mere recommendation.

    Most laws which are written in the driver’s manual are essential for “safety”. These laws are supposed to refrain those fast moving heavy pieces of metal and plastic, from destruct whatever comes in their way. Hence it is no question regarding the necessity of traffic laws, what needs to be challenged, is, the enforcement of these regulations. I see all kinds of violations not on daily bases, but on minute bases. From passing school buses to, passing a street light. From entering a bike lain (to pass other vehicles) to backing out from one street to another. From being engrossed in a hand-cellphone Conversation, to riding at 40 M.P.O. in 20 M.P.O. zone. Why is all this happening? Perhaps, the law enforcement should be multiplied. A) It seems that it must be 5 times the amount of traffic officers, and maybe things will start to get in place. The money to finance that huge army can be driven from the ticket itself. (Plus penalty charges for not paying the ticket in time) I also suggest that instead of issuing so many parking tickets, moving violations should be the priority. The slightest moving violation is doing more harm then most of parking violations. B) Cameras should be installed at many intersections. C) False cameras which is not expensive should be seen everywhere, to scare reckless drivers.

    Please read my suggestions about the subject written above, plus other safety points.

    1) Lights at intersections must give a minute for “safe pedestrian crossing”. This means, that it must be red for vehicles of both sides of the street when the pedestrian has walk. (or should a law be passed that every vehicle must come to a full stop before turning regardless if a pedestrian is in the crosswalk or not.)
    1-A) The time of pedestrian’s right of way should be estimated by elder people. The sign should say walk as long as it takes an 80 year old men to cross that street.
    2) In a crosswalk where it already happened an accident, a bump on the road should be build, sufficient enough to force vehicles physically to slow down. If several accidents occurred in the same crosswalk, the crosswalk should be removed from the intersection @ be placed in the middle of the street.
    3) Wide crosswalks where people have to cross more then four lanes should have a 4 ft. wide platform in the middle.
    4) A road without a sidewalk is a potential danger. In a residential area it shouldn’t be a road without sidewalk at least 4 ft. wide.
    (Bumps on the road are extremely safety-friendly, and should always be considered and encroached in residential places.)
    5) Many motorists are waiting at red lights in the crosswalk. a substantional amount of motorists don’t acknowledge the crosswalk as a place designated exclusively for pedestrians. I suggest to ticket such drivers.
    School bus safety
    1) The laws regarding school bus safety must be reconsidered. Too many drivers are passing school buses. The law of “stopping for a school bus with the lights on,” is containing some unnecessary abuse to the traffic which causes to reduce the respect towered school buses. For example, to keep up a whole line of cars while loading-unloading an entire bus with dozens of children when they don’t have to cross the street will only make matters worse. (However, this must be considered carefully. I had plenty times that kids have darted out in the gutter which wasn’t a pleasant experienced.)
    2) If the child is waiting on the opposite side of the street (the child will have to cross the street), then the bus should position in an angel to block the street before picking up or letting down. To rely upon the red fleshers means jeopardizing the life of the child! Cars keep on passing school buses with the red fleshers on, willingly or while being distracted. Only the frame of the bus will protect the children.
    3) Never should a driver stay at a bus stop with his lights off. When a child sees the bus, he/she will come running. A driver shouldn’t think he had trained the children not to come before signaling. If he is running early, he should pull aside 100 ft. before the stop and wait for the exact time. Staying at a stop with the lights off is a mortal danger. It’s the worst mistake a school bus driver can make.
    4) Many motorists would stop for school buses but cant withstood the honking horns from cars behind. Honking a horn on a driver who stops for a school bus is the same sin as passing, and should be handled so.
    5) A bus driver can’t show for cars to pass. The child interoperates it as a signal to come. It also takes away the authority of police officers. Many times when a police officer tickets someone for passing a school bus the passer claims that the bus driver signaled him to pass. The bus driver who knows the passer and don’t want to buy an enemy will agree to the arbitration. I personally know several of such incidents. The law which permits for drivers to signal for cars to pass is a mistake.
    6) Every bus must be equipped with a stop arm. It will reduce the number of violators to half.
    7) As of now, the law doesn’t require from school buses to have a stop arm. Many drivers that are passing school buses are just distracted. A stop arm reduces school-bus-passers, and should therefore be a must.
    8) Power doors are not safe in school buses. The bus driver must have the option to open the stop arm (to stop oncoming vehicles) without opening the door, which will cause the children to come before the traffic is stopped. (As of now, drivers are trying to stop traffic with the yellow flashers, but that only causes the opposite. Cars are speeding up to still-make it before the stop arm opens up. Many kids were killed when they dart out in the gutter on their way to the bus, and the stop arm wasn’t open. I had two bad near-accidents where the child almost got killed. I had my lesson. I always release the latch of the door before I come to a full stop, [you can’t do that with power doors] so the arm comes out. By the time the child sees the bus stopped, traffic is stopped to. [I also position the bus in an angel to block traffic physically. It may not comply with the law, but it surely complies with those kids who got killed by cars that passed the school bus wile they were getting on-of the bus.])
    Other safety tips
    1) Tinted windows don’t add to safety. Whenever a man puts his feet on the gutter, he must know if the driver seat (of the parked vehicle he must go in front [or behind]) is occupied. I myself had 5 cases where I let down children from my bus, and all of a sudden the vehicle in front started to back. One time he stopped just when he was about to hit the child. I always try to look inside the vehicle the kids will have to go behind, but the windows that were tinted like paint, denied any view.
    2) As of now, a motorist who kills a person while driving reckless, will get a tiket… The biggest crime in the universe is driving reckless, This is truly homicide. A driver who is submitting to he’s anxiousness and does reckless things while maneuvering he’s 2-3 thousand pound of metal and plastic, is a far more danger to the universe then a man who robes a bank. It is an earthshaking transgression, that one can kill innocent people while committing a reckless act, and will be punished with a 150$ fine. Will g-od forgive us for that? A law of making the committing a reckless act, equivalence to pulling a trigger of a gun, must be passed.
    3) As mentioned above, there are laws that are written in the driving manual, but violators are not subject to tickets if they violate it. I require enforcing all those laws in a way that drivers should be ticketed for violating them.
    4) A law should be passed, that no vehicle is allowed to park double 50 ft. close to a crosswalk. Double parked vehicles, block the sight of pedestrians from seeing oncoming traffic, as well as the sight of oncoming traffic from seeing crossing pedestrians. (You can always see delivery trucks that salve the parking problem by parking in the crosswalk, thus blocking entirely the way for pedestrians. Where are the ticket writers? They are not to be found. You will only find them by street cleaning violations, not by things regarding safety.)
    5) The new technology of vehicle who ride very silent (older vehicles’ are more nosy), cause people not to hear the sound of a backing vehicle. A law should be past that every vehicle regardless of the size, most have an installed backing-alarm.
    6) Every driver must take a 6 our “pedestrian safety” class each and every year. The lessons should contain all sorts of hazards involving pedestrians. The class should be fallowed by a written test.
    7) Police officers who fight crimes aren’t sufficient enough to fight traffic violations. A special unit, made out of a huge army of trained official’s who’s only task should be traffic crimes, will do the job. The finance source can be the money that the tickets will bring in.
    9) When you go to wallmart, you will see people who think they are driving in an open highway. A parking lot must be equipped with bumps at every 100 ft.
    10) The maximum speed limit in the U.S. and perhaps in the world is 65 M.P.O., why should vehicles be build to a maximum riding of over 100 M.P.O.? Emergency vehicles should need special permission for additional speed capacity.
    10-A) Vehicles shouldn’t have the capacity of backing more them 1 mile per our. Backing is always dangerous; let that hazard be reduced to a minimum.
    11) Those racing cars as corvette, e.t.s., belong in a racing car field. Why should vehicles have the capacity of rising from zero to 60 M.P.O. in 6 seconds? A pedestrian can be in the middle of the street and suddenly an excited youngster who just got his new toy wants to get the full satisfaction of his investment, and presses down on the gas. The poor pedestrian is running back to the sidewalk and gets killed by an other vehicle. The happy youngster doesn’t have the time to attend to the victim and zooms off….
    12) Many sanitation truck drivers are extremely reckless. They feel as tough they are protected because they are working for the city. No police officer wants to ticket them and they just do what ever they want. Passing lights – passing school buses – making u turns in a crosswalk while the light is red. (Is the best time to do it, Cars are stopped….) – in a small street they will turn in, in the wrong direction to be able to get to the next street without having to circle the street. Talking on a hand sel. While backing fast. Sanitation drivers must be educated on safe driving.
    13) Cameras should be installed at intersections in substantial amounts. The money should be funded from the tickets.
    14) In the winter, all vehicles must be equipped with snow tires. (All year tires are not really effective. Only snow tires will do the job.
    15) Every car has a feature that locks the wheels unless the key is in the ignition. It’s ironic that a school bus which always has children on board lays free for every vicious child to release the parking brakes and to let this 25,000 lb. bus rolling freely. A law of installing this brake-lock feature on new @ older buses should be passed.
    16) A horn of a vehicle is made to alert other drivers of road hazards, but most of the horn honking occurs, when people are anxious on other motorists who are driving safe and carful. If a driver stops for a school bus with the red fleshers on he will be honked feverishly. If a driver is slowing down because the street light is turning yellow he will be a victim of the anxious motorist behind. Honking the horn when safety is not concerning is a violation and should be treated so.
    Laws for pedestrians
    1) Every pedestrian must wear a reflector from 8 a clock at night.
    2) Crossing the street wile talking on a hand sel. Is the same hazard (for him and for the husband of his wife @ the father of his children. [In many cases they also endanger the motorists who try to avoid them]) as driving with a hand sel. And should be treated the same.
    3) Once crosswalks will be safe, it will be justified to force people to use it.

    The efficiency of the current system of crosswalks we had already seen. A number that ranges between 5 @ 6 thousand fatalities and approximate 70,000 wounded per year is far more then a waking call to look for a different solution. If it will be hard to bring fort all the recommendations mentioned above, at least let’s start to steer in that direction.

Comments are closed.