The trend in the automotive market to buy an electric or hybrid car is constantly increasing. Due to the many attractive features and becoming aware of environmental issues, the market is leaning towards “ecofriendly” alternatives; But could these “silent vehicles” be a threat to pedestrians’ safety?
As more EVs drive on public roads we need to think about whether EVs are a danger to pedestrians and what we can do to mitigate risks to the public.
Why these electric cars are a threat to pedestrians and bicycles?
Undoubtedly, relying on technology and depending on it excessively, added to the lack of road regulations, has increased the risk of colliding with an electric car.
Research shows electric cars are about to 40% more likely to hit a pedestrian than a conventional vehicle. These vehicles can barely be heard, especially by cyclists listening to music through headphones or pedestrians walking their dog.
When traveling above 20 MPH, hybrid cars generate noise from tire friction on the road and aerodynamic factors. Both factors make electric cars audible to pedestrians and the blind, but when traveling below 20 MPH, electric vehicles produce almost no noise.
How To Protect Pedestrians from Quiet Vehicles?
Distracted drivers and pedestrians are not the only groups that are at risk from quiet electric vehicles because blind pedestrians could also face an increased risk of injury.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates the odds of a hybrid vehicle being involved in a pedestrian crash are 19 percent higher than with a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle. About 125,000 pedestrians and cyclists are injured annually on roads in the United States.
The agency has taken action to require hybrid and electric vehicles to emit a standard noise to warn pedestrians of a vehicle’s approach. The NHTSA required all electric cars to be outfitted with an artificial sound machine by September 2020 when traveling at slower speeds.
Many automakers are taking this requirement one step further and creating customized sounds to differentiate their cars from the competition. Afterall, we will need to keep an eye out for how car makers, law makers, and local leaders work together to push technology forward while also protecting the safety of all citizens on public roads!
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