The Latest Accessories For Blind Drivers

by Kevin Burton

   I just checked my steering wheel for bumps. 

   Maybe I should check my head for bumps while I’m at it?  Well, there are some heads that should be examined for sure.

   Why do I say this? My customary perusal of google alert e-mails netted me a gem last week.  It seems someone found dots on their steering wheel and claimed that these dots are Braille, placed there to help blind drivers find the horn. 

   This was elucidated in great detail on the website http://www.sportsgrindentertainment.com.

   According to the website there is a meme that has been making the rounds on social media reading, “Just realized these little bumps on the steering wheel are Braille so that blind drivers have no trouble finding the horn to alert other driver when necessary.”

The photo shows a large red circle around a bunch of raised dots on a section of a vehicle steering wheel and is captioned, “you learn something new every day,” according to the website.

Whoever was investigating this non-story attacked it with a journalistic force skin to Leslie Stahl or Dan Rather wielding the might of 60 Minutes, going after some toxic waste-dumping corporate miscreant.

The fact-findings: 

   “The National Federation of the Blind confirmed to Reuters that Braille is not used on car steering wheels, adding that a person who uses Braille as a primary method of reading and writing would not have good enough vision to drive,” reads the story on the website.

   You don’t say.

   “Katie Ramsburgh, director, Affiliates Program & Integrated Marketing and Communications at the Center for Automotive Research, told USA Today, that the post is false because one cannot get a driver’s license if he or she can’t see.”

   No kidding.

   “The steering wheel details are styling elements and usually go in performance vehicles,” Ramsburgh said.

   The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association told Reuters that the raised dots on a steering wheel are designed to “allow drivers to identify the pressing zone for the horn,” and that the dots are common on older vehicles where drivers had to press a certain point in order to honk — it is not needed on more modern cars, the website reported.

   At some length, the website came to the conclusion that the meme’s claim is false.

   Why did so many people put so many brain cells into something like that?

Incidentally, I found exactly one Braille-worthy bump on my steering wheel. My wife says this bump has no function as far as she knows.

I am certainly glad to have seen this report. It got me thinking of other features that could be installed for blind drivers.

We’re not in the market for a car, but if/when we are, maybe we should only consider models with certain features.

How about a retractable cane extending out of the driver’s side front window to help indentify obstacles that a driver might encounter, such as armadillos, tourists or convenience stores?

How about talking speedometers and gas gauges? And if car companies are still scattering braille around the wheel and dashboard, how about having some in a place that helps me find the radio? That’s what I really want to locate.

   And we haven’t even talked about driverless cars. That’s a whole other story, an actual technology that some people think makes sense.

    Do these driverless cars have an impatience factor built in?  For instance if a car with a human  or human-like driver was in front of driverless car at a stoplight, but this driver is filing her nails not paying attention to the light, would the car’s computer hit the horn?

   If I had a driverless car just now, let’s say for a test-drive weekend, it wouldn’t make much difference because I am still trying to avoid gatherings of people. 

      I still want to know who is going to insure these unguided automobile missiles. Nobody has spelled that out for me.

    Maybe I should call the good folks at sportsgrindentertainment.com and put them on the case. 

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2 Comments

  1. You mean you don’t assume that insurance companies will “blindly” pay out if the computer experiences a “crash?” LOL!

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