Pedestrian Safety Act 2010 . . . signed into law

Safety is more than words but requires effective actions. So January 2011 is also the month the Cameron Gulbransen Kids Transportation
Safety Act regulations go through their last public comment before making backup cameras standard on all new vehicles. Backup cameras will no longer be an extra cost, option bought by the blood of 200 kids and elderly who die each year from backover accidents:
http://www.consumersunion.org/pub/core_product_safety/003693.html
Sad to say, every new Prius is sold with an annoying and useless backup beeper that sounds in the cabin when the car is shifted into reverse. Since it can not be heard outside the car, many owners have it converted to a single beep. So I bought an aftermarket, beeping backup light and modified our 2003 Prius to install it:
http://hiwaay.net/~bzwilson/prius/pri_mirror_060.jpg
I have seen pedestrians notice the beeping when I've backed out of a parking place. Because it is located in the tail light assembly, the volume is muted in the cabin but easily heard by those behind me where it can do some good.
Backup cameras and audio alerts are justified by the "blood on the streets" fatalities recorded in NHTSA Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS.) Safety advances such as laminated glass, seat belts, air bags, drunk driving campaigns and crash testing saved lives and the proof is found in the FARS database. But the Pedestrian Safety Act is not supported by FARS data.
We have 10 years of hybrid electric vehicles in the USA including the Prius. Looking at all Prius involved, fatal accidents 2001-2007 revealed half the fatal accident rate as the USA annual rate including Prius pedestrian fatalities. Sad to say, one NHTSA study has been misquoted to claim a risk not found in the FARS data:
http://hiwaay.net/~bzwilson/prius/Prius_Fatal_Accidents/index.html
Like King Knute who commanded the tide to stop, the Pedestrian Safety Act is man’s law but nature obeys its own dictates. The Pedestrian Safety Act won't cost much which is exactly what it will deliver. It simply makes hybrids sound just as deadly as today's gas vehicles. An opportunity to bring in more effective safety systems has been lost but there is another area where safety has been priced out of reach of the ordinary, Prius buyer.
The Prius "Pre-Collision System" is a radar that will automatically apply the brakes when a Prius is about to run into something. The "Lane Keep Assist" is a camera that nudges the Prius to stay in its lane and not wander off the road. These effective systems are only offered after an additional $6,000 is spent on the car buying useless bling (aka., 17" wheels, leather seats.) Toyota only offers them as options in their top of the line, Prius V, and not across the board in all models:
http://www.toyota.com/prius-hybrid/options.html
This speaks volumes of a 'tone deaf' safety attitude that predates Toyota's recent black-eye in run-away accidents and braking problems. By price, Toyota bars these safety systems from frugal Prius buyers as if their lives and safety is less important than those who can afford a Prius V. There is "blood on the streets" showing these two accident avoidance systems are needed for all models.
We own two Prius, a 2003 that I drive and my wife's 2010 Prius. Since the Pedestrian Safety Act effort started, I've been interested in Prius fatal accidents so I've not only looked at the FARS data but also news reports of Prius accidents:
http://hiwaay.net/~bzwilson/prius/accident.html
A significant number of accidents involve Prius leaving their lane or roadway or driving into objects including pedestrians. This level of detail is not evident in the FARS database statistics. To see these patterns, you have to read the police and news reports but instead we get the Pedestrian Safety Act whose merit is thin to the point of invisibility.
Safety entails observations and actions to mitigate real risks. Blocking safety options from affordable Prius is the hubris that predated the loss of Toyota safety reputation in 2009-2010. Toyota could go a long way by offering these safety systems as an option for all Prius models.
Bob Wilson, Huntsville AL
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Oh, yes they will; they won't be an optional extra cost, but will be reflected in a price increase for the vehicle.

It's not useless; it lets the driver know that the car is in reverse and not in park or neutral. True, it would be more useful if it also was heard outside the car, but less useful does not mean useless.
As for the rest of your tirade, keep in mind that new features in cars typically start with the more expensive cars and trickle down to the less expensive ones in subsequent model years.
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Actually all vehicles just like safety glass, seat belts, air bags, e.t.c.

The driver's hand manipulated the shifter. But once the warranties for our Prius expire, I'll wire an audio mute when in "R".

Toyota just had a year of getting beat up over safety from the Saylor accident, runaway acceleration and even the Prius brake TIS. Making "Pre-Collision System" available as an option for all Prius models is 'low hanging fruit.' That doesn't mean everyone will buy one but without the choice, the option, only those able to pay a $6,000 entrance fee will have the option. This entrance fee brings the "Pre- Collision System" cost to nearly $10,000, a steep price to pay.
Bob Wilson
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There's already a way to mute the beep, no hardware changes required:
1. Power on the car to IG-ON or READY. IG-ON will do for this purpose.
2. Using the Trip/ODO button, set the Trip/ODO display to ODO (not Trip A or Trip B)
3. Power off the car.
4. Now power the car to READY (brake on). This is required so that step 6 works correctly.
5. Within 6 seconds of powering on, press and hold the Trip/ODO button for 10 seconds or more.
6. WHILE STILL HOLDING ODO *after* the 10 seconds, shift the "gear" selector from P to R, then back to P. Now release the Trip/ODO button.
7. If the last step was successful, "b on" or "b off" should be displayed in the location where the Trip Odometer or Odometer is normally displayed. "b on" is beep on, and "b off" is beep off.
8. Press Trip/ODO to toggle the mode.
9. Now power the car off to exit the toggle mode.
10. Power the car on to READY and confirm the reverse beep status by shifting to R. The beep should not be audible if "b off" was selected, and should be audible if "b on" was selected..
Note: The Repair manual page states that if the the 12v battery is disconnected, the beep will reset to the default of on, and this procedure will need to be performed again. The repair manual also isn't clear that Trip/ODO should remain depressed while shifting.
Additional Note: The driver and passenger seatbelt reminder chime can be disabled or enabled (respectively, defaults appear to be driver on and passenger off) using similar steps. Instead of shifting from P to R to P in step 6, simply buckle then unbuckle the appropriate seatbelt while continuing to depress the Trip/ODO button.
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All of this applies only to the NHW20, Bob has an NHW11 and a ZVW30. ZVW30 requires the Techstream to change it to a single beep but it cannot be completely disabled.
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. . .

Correct:
Model - year NHW10 - 1997-2000, sold only in Japan although some were exported to 'gray market' resellers NHW11 - 2001-2003, the first 1.5L Prius sold in the USA, a compact sedan shaped like a Ford Focus NHW20 - 2004-2009, the second 1.5L Prius, the hatchback, midsize Prius ZVW30 - 2010-current, the 1.8L Prius, larger midsize Prius with the annoying backup beep
FYI, I modified my 2003 Prius to install a beeping, backup light. Located in the rear lense assembly, it is muted, much quieter than the ZVW30 beep and easily heard by pedestrians. Every sound has its place and if it keeps pedestrians from being a backup 'speed bump,' everyone is happy. But the cabin beep is especially useless.
Bob Wilson
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Are this and/or the seatbelt warning able/disable only for the 2010, or are they for earlier models as well?
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With our 2010, I've left the seatbelt warning alone since it helps me get the passenger's belted. The backup beeper is either repeating or a single beep and I've already got it set for a single beep. Once the warranty has expired, I'll design and add the circuit needed to disable audio when in "R".
I'll figure out where the audio comes from and set up a time-delay, audio-off delay when shifted into "R". It only has to be off long enough to mute the single beep.
Bob Wilson
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On Sun, 23 Jan 2011 16:53:14 -0800 (PST), bwilson4web

I don't mind the single beep at all. The default repeating beep was totally useless and very annoying. The dealer changed it to the single beep in a few minutes.
Pat
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