The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has expressed concerns about the potential hazards that hybrids like the Toyota Prius could pose for blind pedestrians.

The NFB, reacting to an article in The Wall Street Journal on the quietness of hybrids, is likely to advocate for state and federal laws or regulations requiring such vehicles to make some sort of sound.

The NFB said that Toyota believed that the responsibility lies with drivers and pedestrians to watch out for each other.

“Unfortunately, it looks as though we face an uphill battle in convincing automobile manufacturers and advocates of hybrid vehicles that the danger to blind pedestrians is real,” the NFB said.

Meanwhile, the Toyota Prius is becoming an ever more popular choice for drivers in the UK, as the central London congestion charge zone extends west. The hybrid Toyota is exempt from the daily GBP8 (US$15.60) charge, a GBP2,000 annual saving for daily commuters.

Prius sales were up by 135% in the UK compared to the same month last year, after full year figures rose by more than a third in 2006, up from 3,745 Prius sales in 2005 to 5,017 sales.

Toyota representatives in the US were not immediately available for comment.