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Quietness of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Poses Hazard to Pedestrians

My husband (and firm partner) and I purchased a Prius last week, and my first question after driving it was: why is there a beeping sound inside the vehicle when it is backing up, instead of outside the vehicle? Isn't it the approaching pedestrians who need to be alerted?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has acknowledged that the quiet operation of hybrid and electric vehicles may pose a threat to pedestrians. Their near silent operation when backing up, entering or leaving a parking space, slowing, stopping, or making a turn, means that pedestrians may fail to notice that they are approaching. For these maneuvers, research shows that hybrid and electric vehicles have a higher incidence rate of pedestrian crashes than internal combustion engines.

The primary concern is when electric and hybrid vehicles operate using their electric motor systems at slow speeds, when other auditory cues from tires and wind noise are less dominant. The reduction of auditory cues creates a safety hazard for pedestrians.

Advocates for the blind, children and the elderly are particularly concerned about the safety hazard posed by the quietness of hybrid and electric vehicles, and the ability of these classes of pedestrians to notice approaching vehicles.

If you have been struck by an electric or hybrid vehicle that you couldn't hear approaching, call the Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at McGee, Lerer and Associates and we can discuss your case: (800) 999-9948.