From the department of unintended consequences, we now have a bill before Congress that would address one of the biggest problems with electric cars: They're too quiet.
It's not just blind pedestrians who have to worry. An ongoing study from the University of California at Riverside has found that even slow-moving hybrids can get 40 percent closer to any pedestrian than a combustion-engine car before they are detected. This is also a problem for bicyclists, who rely on their hearing to place traffic around them -- far more than many realize.
The bill before Congress would require the Transportation Department to establish safety standards for hybrids and other vehicles that make little discernible noise, including an audible alert.
There's got to be a better way.