Are Hybrid or Electric Cars a Risk to Pedestrians?

April 3, 2015

pg-1-blind-1-rexGreen hybrid or electric vehicles are riskier to pedestrians compared to conventional gasoline-fueled cars. This is according to the Guide Dogs charity report released this week. The report found that pedestrians have a forty percent chance of being run over or hit by a silent electric or hybrid car in comparison to a car with a diesel or petrol engine. The number of injuries caused has been gradually increasing as the number of green cars increase following the Government tax breaks for eco-friendly vehicles. The report said that between 2012 and 2013 there was 54% increase in pedestrian injuries in accidents involving silent cars. The charity’s major concern is about guide dog owners, as well as their animals, that are especially at a high risk of getting hit by quiet vehicles that cannot be heard coming. Therefore, the charity calls for adoption of laws that would make it compulsory for all hybrid and electric vehicles to have noise generating systems.

Currently, the government is gearing its efforts and money towards increasing the number of silent vehicles on roads. While, the charity is in support of increasing the number of environmental friendly cars, there is a need to consider the safety of pedestrians. A survey conducted by YouGov showed that at least 75% percent of the population are of the opinion that hybrid cars made roads risky for partially-sighted or blind pedestrians. A similar number also thought that silent green vehicles were risky to children and older people. Hybrid and electric cars powered by electricity move quietly and may surprise pedestrians expecting to hear a vehicle approaching. Independent companies and car manufacturers have been working on a number of sound generators to minimize accident risk. Most of the sound generators in question include fixed speakers working in the direction of vehicle movement to minimize risks to people not on roads.

The sounds generated range from whining, quaking, to rumbling of petrol or diesel engines. It is hoped that by the year 2021, such artificial generators will be present in hybrid and electric cars, but before this is achieved, there will be more risks on the road. Legislation should emphasize on not only fitting the noise-generators, but also ensuring that they are switched on at all times. One Paralympic Sprinter, Libby Clegg, who supports the charity’s campaign, said that when you cannot hear a silent electric and hybrid car, it is extremely terrifying. Miss Clegg said that millions of blind people would be protected from the rising safety hazard by ensuring that all silent cars have fitted sound generating systems.

 

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