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Quiet Hybrids: Why Pedestrians Don’t Hear Them and Suffer Serious Injuries

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Hybrid and electric vehicles are good for the environment, helping reduce our dependence on oil. But you might not realize the risk they pose to pedestrians. The problem is so serious that the government wants automakers to increase the engine volume on new hybrid and electric vehicles models.

How Hybrids and Electric Vehicles Create Dangers for Pedestrians

A vehicle’s sounds help pedestrians—especially those who are visually impaired—know a vehicle is near and avoid being hit. Hybrids are considerably quieter than gas-run vehicles when they are powered only by electricity. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study of pedestrian crashes with hybrid and non-hybrid vehicles to determine if hybrid vehicles pose a danger to pedestrians and found the following:

  • A pedestrian is 35 percent more likely to be involved in a crash with a hybrid than a non-hybrid vehicle.
  • A pedestrian is 39 percent more likely to be involved in a crash with a hybrid driving 35 miles or less than with a non-hybrid driving the same speed.
  • A pedestrian is 66 percent more likely to be involved in a crash with a hybrid performing certain maneuvers—backing up, turning, or stopping—than with a non-hybrid.

The NHTSA estimates that requiring hybrid and electric vehicles to increase their engine volume would prevent 2,800 pedestrian and bicycle crashes each year.

As a result of this study, the U.S. Department of Transportation is proposing all new models of electric and hybrid vehicles increase the engine sound level when these vehicles are traveling at less than 18 miles per hour to better warn pedestrians. Once these fuel-efficient vehicles speed up, they make enough noise for pedestrians to notice them.

If You Are a Pedestrian Hit by a Vehicle, We Can Help You Protect Your Rights

No matter how they happen, pedestrian crashes cause life-altering injuries and staggering expenses for the victim. If the driver was negligent in causing the crash, he could be responsible for paying the pedestrian’s damages.

Were you hit by a vehicle where the driver was at fault? Was a family member killed by a negligent driver? Our friendly and knowledgeable legal team is here to help you understand your legal rights. Fill out the online contact form on this page for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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