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Warning Quiet Cars Present Dangers to Pedestrians

Friday, December 16, 2016By Richard Alexander

Have you ever seen a pedestrian who was almost hit by a car? Now imagine the increased risk presented by the quiet cars of today—electric and hybrid vehicles that barely make an audible sound. People who suffer from disabilities, such as low vision, are particularly at risk. But even healthy people who are “tuned in” to their mobile devices can be impacted if they rely solely on the sound of gas engines to signal the presence of a vehicle.

Major federal government studies have confirmed an increased risk to pedestrians when quiet cars are around. In 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that hybrid cars were involved in accidents with pedestrians about twice as often as cars with gas-powered engines. In 2011, the NHTSA reviewed crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists in 16 states. In this study, the NHTSA confirmed that hybrid vehicles were more likely to crash with pedestrians and bicyclists than were vehicles relying on traditional combustion engines.

Congress responded to knowledge of this increased risk by passing the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act in 2010. This law requires the federal Department of Transportation to make rules that require car makers to add an audible sound to hybrid or electric vehicles when they are travelling slowly. As you could probably guess, some car manufacturers are unhappy about this. They have succeeded in pushing back any new rule until at least 2018. Other car makers, such as Toyota and Lexus, have already incorporated an alert noise. The Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt are also equipped to alert pedestrians to the potential danger of a silent electric or hybrid vehicle.

If you want to learn more about the proposed rule, which requires a sound alert for pedestrians when a vehicle is travelling less than about 18 miles per hour, visit the NHTSA’s website here. You may also listen to sample sounds that could be used to meet the mandatory sound requirement.

The San Francisco personal injury attorneys at Alexander Law Group, LLP will work with you to procure all possible monetary compensation after your accident. Our goal is to help our clients receive proper compensation for their pain and suffering. You can reach one of our San Francisco personal injury attorneys at 888.777.1776. Alternatively, you can use our online contact form and we will get back to you promptly.

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