Are Electric Cars Dangerous For Pedestrians?

A study released by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), has indicated that the heavier construction of hybrid vehicles make them safe for drivers, but their quiet motors make them a hazard to pedestrians. To most of us, this comes as an unexpected consequence of cleaner, quieter, more environmentally friendly cars. Sure, they dramatically reduce noise pollution, but many pedestrians rely on their sense of hearing to detect oncoming vehicles.
The study indicated that hybrid vehicle occupants suffer fewer crash related injuries than those in conventional cars, but the study found that hybrids cause more pedestrian accidents than their non-hybrid counterparts. The study suggests that the weight of hybrids factored in the 27% decrease in bodily injuries. Batteries and other components add to the curb weight of hybrid Facebook Cars Under 1000 cars. A hybrid sedan can weigh 480 pounds more than its conventional counterpart. Some believe that hybrid drivers may not be as aggressive on the road, further contributing to the lower injury rate. ”Because they are more concerned about maximizing fuel economy and making sure that they are getting every mile out of the gallon,” said Joseph Telmo, a Toyota representative.
On the pedestrian side of things, the risk of injury from hybrid cars is 20% greater than from conventional gas models. The main reason is the quiet electric motors. These motors are touted as one of the benefits of the hybrid vehicles, but have become a safety hazard for walkers. ”When hybrids operate in electric-only mode, pedestrians can’t hear them approaching,” said Matt Moore, vice president of the Highway Loss Data Institute and an author of the report. ”So they might step out into the roadway without checking first to see what’s coming.”
Congress has given the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) three years to come up with a safety guideline to equip hybrids and all-electric cars with sounds to help protect unsuspecting pedestrians. Toyota is ahead of the game. The 2012 Toyota Camry hybrid and Prius emit a noise that increases in pitch as the car comes closer. Ford is working Car Theft Insurance to develop a sound that alerts pedestrians, but is not annoying, said Chad D’Arcy, a Focus electrical marketing manager. It sounds like a solution will soon be found, but we can only hope that it will not be an annoyance. Perhaps automakers should simply make their electric vehicles emanate a sound that mimics a normal combustion engine?

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