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Pedestrians at Danger From Quiet Hybrid Vehicles

Published January 4, 2013 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing minimum sound standards for all hybrid and electric vehicles so that people can hear them coming.

The proposal could mean safer roads for New York and across the country – preventing as many as 2,800 pedestrian and bicyclist injuries over the life of each model year vehicle, says the NHTSA.

More than 1,000 people die in New York motor vehicle accidents each year. Victims include automobile drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.

Electric and hybrid vehicles do not rely on traditional gas or diesel-powered engines at low speeds, making them much quieter and more difficult to detect.

The proposed standard, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141, would help pedestrians detect the presence, direction and location of these vehicles when they are operating at low speeds.

According to the NHTSA:

“Our proposal would allow manufacturers the flexibility to design different sounds for different makes and models while still providing an opportunity for pedestrians, bicyclists and the visually impaired to detect and recognize a vehicle and make a decision about whether it is safe to cross the street,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

The sounds would need to be detectable under a wide range of street noises and other ambient background sounds when the vehicle is traveling under 18 miles per hour. At 18 miles per hour and above, vehicles make sufficient noise to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to detect them without added sound.

Each automaker would be able to select its own engine sounds for its vehicles, so long as the sound fell within an acceptable range.

According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, an average of 12,000 people are hospitalized each year from injuries sustained in New York car wrecks.

Source:

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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