Quiet No More, Suggestions For Hybrid Car Sounds Include Skateboards, Toddlers



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Audie Cornish shares listener suggestions for the sound a quiet hybrid car might make to warn visually impaired people of their approach. The most popular was the sound of the car from The Jetsons cartoon of the 1960s.

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Now the results of a call-out to listeners from Friday's program. We asked you to help the U.S. Department of Transportation - and who doesn't want to do that? You see, DOT wants those silent hybrid and electric cars travelling 18 miles per hour or less to emit some sort of sound to alert pedestrians and cyclists. The Feds posted their own examples of what that sound might be, but frankly, they were a bit conventional.

We thought you could do better. And indeed, you have. We got a car load of responses. The most popular suggestion, by far, is one many of you might be familiar with, the sound of the family's flying car in the animated 1960s TV series, "The Jetsons." It was suggested by Tom McGuinness of Indianapolis and several others. McGuinness writes: It is the one singular, immediately communicated sound that will instantly convey through foggy of night or most profound blindness, the nature of the approaching hybrid vehicle to all pedestrians and possibly to neighborhood dogs as well.

And there were plenty of other creative ideas, including this childhood favorite...


CORNISH: ...the sound of playing cards attached to bicycle spokes was suggested by Dean Meredith of St. Louis, Missouri and others. Trevor Staples of Ann Arbor borrowed from a different non-motorized vehicle for his suggested hybrid warning sound.


CORNISH: Mr. Staples writes about his skateboard sound: Most pedestrians find it so unsettling that they nearly jump out of their shoes when they hear it. Then there were the musical suggestions. Chuck Ingersoll of Penfield, New York, thinks The Beatles were on the right track decades ago.


CORNISH: Another musical choice from Vickie Hall of Jacksonville, Florida. She thinks adding a sound to hybrids will make being green tougher, so bring in Kermit the Frog.


KERMIT THE FROG: (Singing) It's not easy being green.

CORNISH: And finally, from Josh Graciano of Concord, New Hampshire, who gives us the ultimate and familiar automotive sound courtesy of the American toddler.


CORNISH: Thanks for all your suggestions to help make our streets safe from the threat of all too silent hybrid cars.


CORNISH: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.