Silent electric cars may cause more pedestrian accidents

Silent electric cars may cause more pedestrian accidents

New hybrid and electric vehicles are extremely popular and many expect to see an increasing number of them on the streets and highways in the coming years. Some say that this is a good thing for the environment, and many have commented on how silently they run. But that, it turns out, may not entirely be a good thing, because pedestrians crossing a street may not hear a vehicle coming, leading to a significant risk and a larger number of pedestrian accidents.

Because of this concern, federal regulators are proposing that such vehicles emit at least a minimum level of sound to alert pedestrians — as well as animals, such as guide dogs for the blind — that a vehicle is approaching, and to get out of the way.

Blind and other visually impaired pedestrians may be at higher risk, but the silence of electric and hybrid vehicles may imperil all pedestrians, as well as bicyclists and even other motorists. The proposed sound standards would require that the vehicles be equipped to make a sound that could be heard despite background street noise and at a distance. This is especially important when the vehicles are traveling slowly, when they currently make little if any noise.

Federal regulators believe that their proposal is necessary to prevent as many as 2,800 pedestrian and bicyclist injuries for each model year of the new electric or hybrid cars, vans and trucks. The cost of complying with the proposed regulation is estimated at approximately $30 per vehicle, a small price to pay for saving lives.

Source:, “NHTSA Proposes New Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles,” Jan. 9, 2013