Driving an electric or hybrid car is an honorable action undertaken by millions of commuters each day. It reduces noise and stress, and most importantly, helps preserve the environment.
When it comes to safety, however, taking to the road in one of these quiet runners comes with a heightened risk; not necessarily for the drivers, but for those in close proximity of the cars.
Can a Car Be Too Quiet?
An electric car has a noiseless battery that charges the vehicle, while a hybrid uses both electricity and a back-up gas engine. Both vehicles are exceptionally quiet, inside and out, and exert a faint hum if one really listens. This makes it very difficult for nearby pedestrians and cyclists to hear the approaching vehicle. When this happens, simply stepping off a curb or riding a bicycle down a sidewalk can suddenly become fatal.
The Danger of Electric Vehicles
Individuals or groups who are out-and-about by foot or cycle typically rely on road sounds to stay out of harm’s way. With electric and hybrid vehicles, this sense often become useless.
The electric and hybrid car risks are very high when:
- Pedestrians cross the street while not paying 100 percent attention to their surroundings, such as when they are absorbed in their phones, lost in conversation or with small children.
- Transit and road workers let their guard down because they don’t notice a quiet vehicle approaching the work area.
- Hearing or visually impaired individuals walk into traffic because they don’t hear or see a silent, oncoming vehicle.
To help remedy this silent danger, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a new federal safety standard requiring that newly manufactured electric and hybrid vehicles produce an audible noise when traveling at 19 mph or less. At higher speeds, wind resistance and tire noise emit enough sound to act as a warning to pedestrians and cyclists.
Manufacturers have until Sep. 1, 2019, to equip vehicles with the alert. Half of new electric and hybrid vehicles must be in compliance one year before the deadline. According to NHTSA, this move will prevent approximately 2,400 pedestrian injuries each year.
Are Electric Cars Now Known as Silent Killers?
Although the advent of electric cars has become somewhat of a dichotomy – they save the planet, but harm pedestrians – they are, in all fairness, more of a responsible pioneer than a dangerous killing machine. NHTSA has fortunately taken steps to help ensure electric cars and hybrids maintain their positive presence, while protecting those in their paths.
The Flood Law Firm Helps Those Injured by Electric Vehicles
If you’ve sustained serious injury or loss due to an electric or hybrid vehicle accident, please call The Flood Law Firm at (877)987-9LAW to speak to our team of pedestrian accident attorneys about how we can help.