REFRICKINGDICULOUS Hybrid cars dangerously quiet for pedestrians: US blind group <!-- END HEADLINE --> <!-- BEGIN STORY BODY --> Wed Feb 14, 2:41 AM ET WASHINGTON (AFP) - An association of blind Americans has warned that cars with hybrid engines using electricy and fuel are dangerously too quiet for pedestrians. The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) said hybrid cars pose a risk to the blind, children, the elderly, cyclists and distracted pedestrians. The group said it conducted tests with blind people. "We had the car drive by in different situations, to see wether or not people could hear it and use the sound of the car to safely cross the street, and they could not. The car was just silent," NFB spokesman John Pare told AFP. Pare said NFB does not want to add to noise pollution, but hybrid cars should not be less noisy than other cars. Chris Danielsen, a 36-year-old NFB member, said up to 30 people took part in tests on a side street and in an alleyway with a Toyota Prius and a Honda Civic. "We all stood on the side of the street and the idea was to raise your hand as you heard the car approach," Danielsen said. "We generally couldn't sense that it was there right in front of us, which of course, if we had been standing in the road, would have been running right over us," he said. "By the time anybody detected it, if we had actually been standing in the road, it would have taken out three or four people." Barbara Pries, a member of NFB's pedestrian security committee, said no blind person has been killed by a hybrid car but some have reported having near accidents. "It's just a matter of time before people are going to get injured and killed," she said. Nearly 4,900 pedestrians were killed in road accidents in the United Stats in 2005, according the government figures. NFB said it contacted Toyota, Honda and Ford in vain to ask that a noise or signal could be added to their hybrids. Toyota representatives said there were no current plans to change its hybrid but that it was looking into improving pedestrian safety. "We are aware of this issue and studying a way to improve pedestrian safety. It's important that the solution doesn't add to noise pollution but is good for pedestrians," said Toyota spokeswoman Martha Voss. But another Toyota spokesman, Xavier Dominici, said the trend was toward quieter cars and that people should start getting used to them. "There is a lot of ambient noise and the trends toward quiet powertrains in all vehicle has raised the need for additional caution to be exercised by pedestrians and drivers as well," he said. "Part of it is also acclimating your ear to that noise. Frankly the sound of an automobile is changing as more quiet powertrains and hybrid vehicles come to dominate the market," he said.