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Quiet Cars Are Good for the Earth, But Dangerous to Pedestrians

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Just about every automobile company has introduced a car that is environmentally-friendly, whether it’s a hybrid or an electric-powered vehicle. And although these “green” vehicles are good for the environment—and oftentimes, good for the consumers’ wallets—they aren’t so great for pedestrians.

The problem with these non-gas guzzlers is that they are too quiet. Not having engines that rely on that smooth, liquid gas to get their motors running results in them making no more sound than a gentle hum. Although this may sound advantageous, to some, it actually creates a dangerous problem.

How Quiet Is Too Quiet?

Vehicles like the Ford Focus Electric are among some of the quietest electric cars available and, although some drivers enjoy the “barely there” engine noise, pedestrians often find the cars’ silence deadly. If pedestrians aren’t able to hear the vehicles coming, they may be struck by them, resulting in serious injuries or even death. This notion is particularly concerning for people who are blind or who have low vision, as they often rely on a vehicle’s sound to alert them of where to walk and where not to walk. In fact, a recent report out of the UK indicated that pedestrians are 40 percent more likely to be struck by hybrids than louder vehicles.

Why Car Manufacturers Are Concerned

Many car manufacturers would agree that part of the appeal of an electric car is its relative silence. After all, the lack of noise allows motorists to enjoy the driving experiencing just that much more. However, thanks to the Pedestrian Safety Act of 2010, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will be rwquired to initiate a rule-making process for the minimal amount of noise that a vehicle is required to make. This new rule will force some manufacturers to install devices or create other ways to make their cars louder. This has some automobile makers concerned that consumers won’t want to purchase electric cars now that they will be required to make some noise.

Some manufacturers have attempted to give their vehicles noise, but most failed miserably. For instance, Nissan installed a grating “bee-boop” noise into its Leaf, but the noise fell short as far as making a difference. Japanese automakers installed a Jetson-sounding noise on its 2012 Prius, but this still may not be enough to keep pedestrians safe. Audi’s new R8 eTron, however, is likely the front-runner in the noise department, as it emits a low growl that is similar to the noise a typical vehicle makes, which is exactly what advocates for the blind have asked for.

Advocates request that the electric cars make noises that are similar to those found in typical gasoline- and diesel-fueled cars, as these noises are what pedestrians, including those who are blind, are familiar with. Someone who is blind may not know that a vehicle is coming dangerously close if it makes a sound that doesn’t replicate what a typical engine does. These new regulations that NHTSA makes will likely make electric cars create noises like their traditional counterparts, which may keep pedestrians safer. NHTSA may also require that all noise-free vehicles—even those that are not electric—also make sounds that are loud enough to alert all pedestrians that they are approaching.

Hold Those Responsible for Your Injuries Accountable

Even if the electric car that hit you made enough noise, you still may not have been able to get out of its way fast enough to avoid getting hit. Pedestrians who are struck by vehicles are extremely vulnerable and often suffer from serious injuries because of the accidents. The attorneys of Wayne Wright want them to know that they are not alone in their fights for justice, and may be able to help them receive the compensation they deserve that can help pay for medical bills and other expenses related to the accident. Contact us today to schedule an appointment by calling 800-237-3334 and learn about how our legal team may be able to help you during this difficult time.

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