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April 9th, 2008

The Stupid Leading the Blind…

There are a couple of very common sayings which reference blind people as a symbol of ignorance. There is the very common, “The blind leading the blind,” and then there is “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” Now, I am certain that it is universally understood that “blind” in these instances refers to “lack of understanding” or “being unaware” and not being sightless. However, just in case, I’ll spell it out. I AM NOT CALLING BLIND PEOPLE IGNORANT OR STUPID!

Besides, it seems that our elected officials (Congress in particular) have a monopoly on stupidity. I was reading this article today and just couldn’t help but shake my head in disgust. Apparently,  Democratic Rep. Edolphus Towns and Republican Rep. Cliff Stearns are introducing a bill into congress that would protect the blind from hybrid cars. My first thought was, “Why are blind people driving in the first place?” However, it is pretty evident that the article isn’t talking about blind drivers, but instead, blind pedestrians.

The concern is that blind pedestrians will have a difficult time hearing an approaching vehicle and may accidentally step in front of one while crossing the street. I definitely understand the concept behind this line of thinking, considering that hybrids are a helluva lot quieter than normal cars. However, if you look at this from a clear-headed, “Open-eyed” perspective, you will quickly see why this is a huge waste of time and money.

First of all, there are no known instances of a blind pedestrian ever being hit by a hybrid because he didn’t hear it coming. So, this is really a lame concern. However, in the interest of “due diligence” I’m going to let them slide on this one.

Second, this legislation would require the (taxpayer-funded) Department of Transportation to conduct a two-year study (how much will that cost?) and then present safety standards to automakers who would have two years to comply. This means that we’re over four years away from any tangible results from this effort (’cause the bill would have to pass through congress first, and how long will that take?).

Third, the automakers would then have to implement those standards, requiring untold costs which will no doubt be passed on to consumers (Hey, I’ll be due to buy a new car about that time…isn’t that swell!).

Fourth, who is going to protect deaf pedestrians from silent cars? Now, before you say, “Well, a deaf person should know to look both ways before entering the street…” I will say, “Every four year old knows to look both ways before crossing the street, but people still get hit by cars all the time.” So, that’s a lame argument.

Finally, and most importantly, there is already a solution for this problem. In fact, there are more than one! So, let me save the taxpayers millions of dollars and end this right here and now. Every car should be equipped with a HORN. An alert driver would utilize the horn to get a pedestrian’s attention if they felt that pedestrian was unaware of the car’s presence. In addition to adding horns to all hybrids, I suggest adding sidewalks where blind pedestrians can walk. This might actually make normal people (I mean people with normal vision) safer too, because it will keep their dumb asses out of the street.

The alternatives are that we can start adding a recording device and a speaker to the car that constantly loops the sound of a combustion engine when the hybrid is in battery mode. Or, better yet…we could add a combustion engine to make the noise! We’d get the added benefit of using twice as much gas! OOOH…wait, I know! We could equip every hybrid with a sound device that makes futuristic sounds like we used to hear from George Jetson’s flying car. That way we’d not only be helping the blind, but we’d be forging ahead into the future too!

America, when did we become so freakin’ stupid?

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