Threat the blind can't hear: hybrids | Nov. 29, Diane Steinle column
Let blind person's cane 'talk' to hybrid
I fully agree with the article written by Diane Steinle and what could happen when a blind person may want to cross an intersection and cannot hear the usual sound of a car's engine. However, the suggestion that hybrid vehicle manufacturers add a sound of sorts so a blind person can be aware of the vehicle's presence at a crosswalk is absolutely incredible.
I am the owner of a 2010 hybrid (Prius) and agree that they are extremely quiet vehicles. As a matter of fact, shortly after taking delivery, I had occasion to stop at my first traffic light, and the engine just seemed to quit running. I was amazed not to hear the engine as with my previous car, but was advised that engine silence can occur when you come to a full stop.
The solution for the blind is simple, and it doesn't need to be done by adding a sound to a normally silent vehicle. All the manufacturer of a hybrid vehicle would need to install is an "ultrasonic transmitter" on all those vehicles. The transmitter (the sound of which would be above the normal hearing level) would emit a signal to a receiver in the handle of a blind person's cane or probe. That signal would create a vibration to let the user know a car was in the vicinity. The stronger the signal, the closer the vehicle. Further, when incorporated in a cane, it can serve the needs for a person who may be both blind and deaf, which the article didn't consider.
That being solved, all we need is to come up with a means for a blind person to know when it's safe to cross at a light-controlled intersection. The cane could also be made to do that as well. If we can land men on the moon and bring them home safely, this should be a piece of cake. Whatever happened to state-of-the-art thinking?
Peter B. Ferrara Sr., Belleair Bluffs
Drivers ignore all pedestrians
Diane Steinle's Neighborhood Times column spotlights an important subject involving hybrids, traffic and blind pedestrians, and one hopes that car manufacturers can quickly develop a method to warn the blind that hybrids are close. I wish Steinle had mentioned pedestrians in general having the right of way over cars when crossing streets.
Florida and St. Petersburg have earned a reputation as dangerous to the health of pedestrians. I see dangerous discourtesy by drivers often on Fourth Street N, downtown and in shopping malls. Sometimes pedestrians create their own peril by crossing at the wrong place or wearing dark clothes at night. But drivers are the main culprits. Often while talking on cell phones, drivers turn in front of pedestrians crossing on the stripped paths when the light favors the walkers. This happens at similar crossing points in malls and at stop signs.
Many know that this situation exists throughout the city, and every age group faces these perils. St. Petersburg appears to have taken a stab at improving safety, but what really must occur is a change in driver behavior. I don't know what the city can do to ensure more courteous drivers. Arrests and heavy fines are a start. But the prospects for improvement are nil, so the best advice is don't trust drivers any time, anywhere.
James R. Gillespie, St. Petersburg
CASA sacrifices for the common good
Recent publicity about loss of county funding for the CASA Visitation Center has led some to question whether Community Action Stops Abuse was in danger of closing. We want to assure the community that CASA is alive and working hard to maintain community support to help survivors of domestic violence and their children.
This economy has led CASA to carefully review expenses. A board member reviewed our insurance policies and helped obtain better insurance and saved $10,000. A CASA employee observed that our janitorial bill was significant and we negotiated a $7,000 annual savings with our gracious janitorial service. The franchise owner of our employee leasing company reduced our bill for a savings of about $20,000 a year! We are negotiating an $8,000 saving from our telephone companies. The Visitation Center is now open one day instead of three. CASA's committed staff did not receive raises, and leadership staff took a week of furlough. We eliminated four part-time positions and are relying heavily on our terrific volunteers. Our auditors just gave us another squeaky clean audit.
Several frightening incidents in the news prove the need for CASA's supervised visitation center. An abduction of a 3-year-old child from a "supervised" visit occurred because the "supervisor" was a friend of the father's. At the CASA Visitation Center, supervisors must be close enough to hear and see every action of the visitor. Visiting parents are subjected to a metal detector, and their bags are searched for weapons. A police officer is present to protect children, staffers and parents.
Without CASA, the community shifts expenses to law enforcement. It is a massive taxpayer expense to recover one abducted child. Saving the expense and the trauma and keeping children safe at CASA's Visitation Center is our mission.
Linda A. Osmundson. executive director, CASA, St. Petersburg
Let's hear those yuletide tunes
Christmas should be a wonderful, uplifting time of year. This year businesses were putting up Christmas items even before Halloween.
Where is the Christmas music? It seems as if we hear it a week before Christmas and then have to wait another year to hear it again. There is plenty of time for other types of music all year long, but when it is Christmas, it is Christmas, and I want to hear the appropriate music earlier.
Christmas is not just for getting in debt. It should be a joyous time, and we need to be prepared for it. The music is part of that and a time to be thankful for what we do have.
Sandra Groover, St. Petersburg