Ban the electric death machines

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Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:30 am

Not a recent story, but one so rich with poetry that it deserves further attention:

REM frontman Michael Stipe has urged electric car manufacturers to install loud ringtones in the vehicles – after he was nearly killed by one.

The Man on the Moon singer was left shaken when an silent electric car narrowly missed him in Los Angeles, and predicts the problem will increase with the futuristic transport’s growing popularity – unless music is played to alert pedestrians to their presence.

He says, “It was an electric car! I suddenly thought to myself: ‘This is going to be a big, big problem.’ People will be run over by electric cars all the time. They make no noise. No sound. They’re silent!”

Next: Moby urges an all-meat diet after he is poisoned by a carrot.

UPDATE. The deadly menace of electric vehicles has been with us for more than a century. From the August 27, 1904 edition of the Mariposa Gazette:

Harold HAMILTON, a six-year-old boy, was run over by an electric car on Twenty-ninth street Wednesday. The boy was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, where the doctors say he has small chance to recover from his injuries. The boy had just come from Modesto with his mother and two sisters and was staying at the house of Peter J. McCORMICK, the deputy Coroner, at 322 Twenty-ninth street. The lad was just crossing the street when a west bound car struck him. He immediately fell under the wheels.

Everybody hurts.

Posted by Tim B. on 03/09/2005 at 06:42 AM
    1. Coming soon- outrage as Segway gang roar (silently and slowly) into town, take over juice bar and fondle wildlife. Only roar (quietly, depending on battery charge) into night to seek new nadirs of depravity after latte’ fails to froth correctly.

      Posted by Habib on 03/09 at 06:53 AM • #


    1. Repeat after me: The black hard stuff on the ground is where the cars go! For Christ’sake, open yer friggin’ eyes!

      Posted by BIWOZ on 03/09 at 07:10 AM • #


    1. I had it drilled into me to look both ways before I cross the street. On the other hand, considering how many bicycles I have been nearly run down by on the sidewalk on my walk to work, maybe it’s those two-wheeled machines of doom that should be banned. Because they startled me! I was all shaken up and everything!

      Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 03/09 at 07:23 AM • #


    1. Sounds strange, but I’ve thought of the same thing. I rely on my ears a lot when running or walking with the direction of traffic, which I prefer, if I have to be there to begin with – moving over farther off the lane, for example, before impact. Even moving against traffic, you can always get knocked off by someone passing in the other direction. I almost learned this the hard way.

      But, anything for Gaia.

      Posted by J. Peden on 03/09 at 07:37 AM • #


    1. How lucky young Harold was staying with the deputy coroner…

      Posted by yellerKat on 03/09 at 07:51 AM • #


    1. I recount a personal account today, South Perth, WA,. lunchtime.

      My usual lunchtime canteen, (New Yorker roll), was visited, and I went back to the office, having to cross Mill Point Road at the Windsor Hotel, South Perth.

      Spotted father and son (4 years?) approaching me from other side of road.

      Said father and son arrived at median island, father (Wise) and son ( unwise) had differing ideas on proceeding.

      Son wanted to proceed, into dense traffic, but father, not.

      Here the story ends.

      Posted by Louis on 03/09 at 08:07 AM • #


    1. I’ve had too many run-ins with bikes than I care to count and only one close call with a car I can remember (it was in London, and despite the arrows on the pavement I looked the wrong way). I don’t think it’s the silence of the bikes; I think its because bicyclists ignore traffic laws.

      So, unless electric cars start running red lights more often than they stop for them, I’m not worried about them.

      Posted by John Nowak on 03/09 at 08:17 AM • #


    1. This dickhead will be Hong Kong next week. Keep an eye out for an article about little old Chinese ladies silently mowing him down as he tries to get into lifts or off the MTR….

      Posted by Hanyu on 03/09 at 08:29 AM • #


    1. I see no reason that electric cars can’t play a motorcycle sound, playing cards in the spokes being the obvious environmental solution, the same as I use on my bicycle.

      Posted by rhhardin on 03/09 at 09:59 AM • #


    1. Silent, deadly and they won’t help hold back the glaciers… ban the electric car!

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 03/09 at 10:09 AM • #


    1. On the other hand, if you know people you’d like to run down, electric cars may be the way to go.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 03/09 at 10:25 AM • #


    1. Hmmm.

      If they ever get popular I plan on playing the “ice cream truck” jingle.  At excessively loud volume and repeated endlessly.

      Hey!  I’m just looking out for YOUR safety!  🙂

      Posted by ed on 03/09 at 10:25 AM • #


    1. i let go lots of silent but deadlies, due to an exclusively lager and curry diet. i also rode a BMW K100 for a while but got rid of it- a motorcycle that is quiet is dangerous- none of the no-necks knew you were there, and would change lanes into you (a troop I knew in the Qld cops said that was also why they ditched them). I prefer a motorcycle that makes more noise than an indignant enviromentalist- the works Ducati 900SS Imola I had sounded worse than an incoming V1 missile. and no bastard didn’t know you were there. Time for a review of safety policy for motorbikes- they must be loud so blind dickheads can hear if not see them.

      Posted by Habib on 03/09 at 10:27 AM • #


    1. That’s why I got the aftermarket exhaust kit that rattles the windows for blocks, honey, it’s for safety.  I don’t want to sneak up on any pedestrians, you know.

      I’ve added more stuff to my cars using the safety pitch on the missus–coilovers, new wheels, strut tower braces, modified sway bars, slotted rotors, etc.  Thanks Ralph Nader!

      Posted by Matt in Denver on 03/09 at 10:28 AM • #


    1. Hey Michael Stipe. . .
      Didn’t your mother teach to look both ways before you cross roads?

      Look before you enter a roadway!

      See more at: Blogger Beer.

      Posted by Marcus Aurelius on 03/09 at 12:04 PM • #


    1. I have the same problem with my Nimitz-class sedan chair. Many is the peasant that has fallen under the hobnailed boots of my three hundred oiled, muscle-bound bearers. I toyed with the idea of fitting a marine foghorn to it, but reasoned that crushing proletarians insufficiently nimble to get out of the way of my Juggernaut contributed mightily to the improvement of the gene pool.

      Posted by David Gillies on 03/09 at 12:52 PM • #


    1. Nothing is ever new.

      When these crazy horseless carriages were first introduced, they were required to honk their horns constantly so people knew these super fast death machines were coming towards them.  Of course, this scared the horses.

      Nice to see Mr. REM being so progressive.

      Posted by EvilDave on 03/09 at 02:08 PM • #


    1. Sound is all well and good for alerting the hearing pedestrian but what of those who are unable to hear?

      I say the electric cars should belch out plumes of foul smelling noxious gas that could hover and collect over areas where many cars are being driven. Then one could smell and see the cars.

      There may be some environmental side effects to the gasses but we’d work those out over a hundred years or so.

      Posted by JDB on 03/09 at 02:18 PM • #


    1. “For Christ’sake, open yer friggin’ eyes!”

      They were open; they were just focused on his shoes. This is Michael Stipe we’re talking about.

      I don’t have anything in particular against the guy, but I’d have paid good money to see a tape of him getting hit by an electric car. Best part: His bag of recycling goes everywhere.

      Posted by Jim Treacher on 03/09 at 03:34 PM • #


    1. #12 I was just thinking they should be made to play ‘Greensleeves’ like ice cream vans …

      The only trouble is that would mean *more* kids running out into the street!

      Posted by idle fellow on 03/09 at 04:02 PM • #


    1. And to think, after 8 months on the waiting list, I got my Prius, and this is what I got?  A silent killer?

      Posted by BigFire on 03/09 at 04:14 PM • #


    1. Screw you, Treacher!

      You leave YOUR blog idle for days to post here? You could be mercilessly skewering Stipe there, you know.


      Posted by Sigivald on 03/09 at 04:49 PM • #


    1. Hey, I posted something. Leave me alone.

      Posted by Jim Treacher on 03/09 at 05:00 PM • #


    1. From the Sirius Cybernetics Company we bring you
      Electric Cars with
      Genuine People Personalities!
      No Longer will your car be a silent, deadly and dull
      Menace To Society.
      Your car will interact with pedestrians:
      “Excuse me, sorry .. watch out there!”
      or “No, no, after you, I insist!”.
      As well, there will be novelty personalities like Marvin:
      “Oh god, the traffic … here I am, brain the size of a Planet … stuck here with all these other smug robotic cars who utter inanities to every passer-by. Life! Don’t talk to me about Life!”
      Aggressive Alpha-Male Personas:
      “Hey! Watch it! Got a problem Pal? I’m just changing lanes here, OK!!!?”
      And Super Polite Ones:
      “Whoops! Took that turn a little sharply … Sorry! Have a Nice day! Bye..”
      Then there are the User Programmable
      ok I’ll stop there.

      Posted by blogstrop on 03/09 at 05:38 PM • #


    1. Stand in the place where you were
      Now face West
      Think about that huge silent piece of metal about to roll over you…….

      Posted by FusterCluck on 03/09 at 05:56 PM • #


    1. Stipey needs a good long session with Hector.

      Posted by Habib on 03/09 at 07:42 PM • #


    1. Habib — Pretty sure your silent but deadlies could make a glacier run screaming back to the poles, where its neighbors would comment on the odd blue coloring…

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 03/09 at 08:55 PM • #


    1. Sorry to spoil part of the story, but I suspect that the “electric car” refered to in the 1904 report was actually what Americans call a “trolley” and what Australians call a “tram”

      Posted by Consuela Potez on 03/09 at 10:16 PM • #


    1. REALLY?!?!?

      Posted by Jim Treacher on 03/09 at 10:46 PM • #


    1. There were electric automobiles in existence in the early 1900s.

      Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 03/09 at 11:59 PM • #


    1. True, Andrea, but the use of the phrase in the report “Then he arrested the motorman in charge of the car” strongly implies that it’s a tram/trolley.  “Motorman” was the term generally used for someone who drove a tram/trolley, aka “streetcar” or “electric car”.

      Posted by Consuela Potez on 03/10 at 12:14 AM • #


    1. Anyone here ever been to Wildwood, NJ?  It’s a resort town right on the beach, with an epic-length boardwalk.  Down the center of the walk is a concrete strip for trams (electric trolleys) to cart the weary or lazy hither and yon.

      Blogstrop, you take first prize – as these multicar behemoths roll along, the operators hit a button to warn the pedestrians, and they cry, “Watch the tram car, please!” (It’s the schoolmarmest voice imaginable.  Go here and click the highlight for a five-second dose.  Now ramp up the decibels and extend for several hours.  Welcome to the Jersey Shore!)

      Posted by Nightfly on 03/10 at 12:56 AM • #


    1. I love that bit in Hitchhiker where Zaphod threatens to re-arrange the nanny-like computer’s brains cells with an axe!
      It responds:
      “I can see we’re going to have to work at this relationship.”

      Posted by blogstrop on 03/10 at 05:50 AM • #


  1. aieeeee … my 104 year old, visa overstaying, medicare bludging, step half gran has just been annihilated by a careless thug in a silent but deadly wheelchair

    Posted by KK on 03/10 at 07:25 AM • #