While pedestrians should look both ways before crossing the road, it is common for walkers to rely on both their eyes and ears when determining if it is safe to cross. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer knows when there are curved roads or roads where visibility is impaired, pedestrians often hear a car before they can see it. The engine noise tips them to the approaching vehicle so they don't begin crossing the road and enter the car's path.
This creates a problem with an increasing number of cars on the road not making traditional engine sounds motorists have come to expect. Tax breaks and incentives, along with concerns about fossil fuel use, are making hybrid and electric vehicles more common. Lower priced hybrids and electric cars are also leading to more people driving green vehicles. These environmentally-friendly cars are virtually silent, or entirely silent. Pedestrians who don't hear them coming are getting hurt or killed more often and the problem is only expected to grow worse.
Hybrid Cars Endanger Pedestrians With their Silent Engines
Daily Mail reported rising accident rates resulting from an increase in electric and hybrid vehicles. From 2012 to 2013, a 54 percent increase occurred in the number of accidents involving pedestrians and green cars. The increase occurred as more electric and hybrid cars are on roads. The same trends are emerging not just in the UK but also in the United States and other countries where green incentives make electric cars more popular and affordable.
The increased risks of pedestrians being run over by hybrids and electric vehicles is significant, with pedestrians 40 percent more likely to get hit by a green car than by a car with a traditional gas or diesel engine. Certain groups are more vulnerable to added risks presented by silent cars, including pedestrians who are blind and visually impaired; children; and the elderly. When responding to a YouGov poll, 3/4 of survey respondents expressed concern about silent engines affecting people with sight problems and a similar number expressed concern about the safety of children and senior citizens.
Efforts are being made to mandate requiring electric car manufacturers to add sound to engines. In the European Union, regulations have already passed requiring sound to be built into electric cars but the requirement does not go into effect until 2021. Advocates are concerned about how many more electric cars will be on the road by that time and are also worried about whether the mandate will require the sound systems to always be on. If the system can be switched off, pedestrians will remain at risk.
Sound systems typically work using speakers directed towards the front of the vehicle, which can play traditional engine sounds or make other noises. The important thing is to notify pedestrians a vehicle is coming so pedestrians won't enter the roadway and be struck.