I am paying extra attention to these nearly silent vehicles because I am blind.
While crossing an intersection, I depend on my hearing to determine a safe time to walk. I am fortunate to always be accompanied by my leader dog, Ace. Still, I must tell Ace when to move forward based on the traffic sounds around me. My dog guide serves as a double-check for my safety, and can assist with traffic.
These vehicles present a new set of challenges when traveling, and make identifying traffic sounds as crossing clues extremely difficult. I know that at Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester, Mich., they are training tomorrow's leader dogs to look for hybrid vehicles. The organization's instructors use a donated Toyota Prius to expose the dogs to the nearly silent vehicles.
But, as diligently as they all may work, the vehicles are still difficult to detect. If you are driving a hybrid vehicle, please keep this in mind and try to look for people who can't always look for you.
Mike Cox, Martinez