Boston, like many other cities, has become increasingly hospitable to electric cars as a method of transportation. In fact, according to Boston.com, there are several public charging stations for electric cars outside City Hall and in nearby Coolidge Corner. These public charging stations reflect an increased trend towards green transportation solutions. Hybrid cars are, of course, growing in popularity in the city as well.
Although these cars may be doing a lot to help the environment and to fight dependence on fossil fuel, they are also creating one major unintentional problem: they are putting pedestrians at risk. New NHTSA standards, however, aim to curb the danger and our Boston pedestrian accident attorneys are firmly in support of the new standards.
New Rules for Hybrid and Electric Cars
So, how are pedestrians at greater risk from hybrid or electric cars? The problem is that the cars are simply too quiet without the standard gasoline engines that people have come to expect. People assume, from a lifetime of experience, that cars make noise. When hybrid cars and electric cars are traveling at 18 miles per hour or less, they cannot be heard.
When pedestrians don’t hear a car approaching, they don’t know not to step out into the street or off of the sidewalk. They don’t know that they need to get out of the way of oncoming traffic. They don’t know that they can’t cross the street. Without the sound of the engine, these pedestrians may think that the road is clear and that they are safe. Of course, pedestrians can still see the cars but by the time they see them, it might be too late for either the walker or the driver to respond in order to avert a crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), however, has a solution. It issued a proposal on Monday January 7, 2013 that is aimed to make pedestrians safer as they share the road with hybrids and that is expected to potentially result in up to 2,800 fewer pedestrian accident for each model year of hybrid vehicle that is available.
The solution from NHTSA was proposed as required by the bipartisan Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, which was signed into law in 2010. The proposal is a simple one: make the cars noisier.
Because the hybrid and electric vehicles do not make enough noise themselves, manufacturers will now need to add noises that the car will emit if it is going below the 18 mile per hour threshold. Although manufacturers will have leeway about the kind of noise that their car is making, there are some guidelines to help ensure this idea works. For one thing, the sound has to be heard above ambient background noise. For another, car manufacturers have to choose the same sound for all cars of the same make and model.
Hopefully, by taking the simple step of adding sound to hybrid and electric vehicle engines, fewer injuries and deaths can occur in pedestrian crashes throughout Boston.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in the Greater Boston area, contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC for a free consultation. Call 1-877-617-5333.