Are Electric Cars a Danger to Pedestrians?

Ford Focus electric car
July 27, 2016
Legally Reviewed By Attorney Rand Spear, Esq.

In 2009, a study conducted by NHTSA revealed that electric and hybrid cars were twice as likely to cause a pedestrian accident.Modern electric cars have grown in popularity since they first appeared on the American market in the late 1990s. Over the past few years, many motorists have turned to electric vehicles as an environmentally friendly alternative to gas-powered cars. There are 276 electric charging stations and 527 charging outlets in Pennsylvania alone, with many of them concentrated in the greater Philadelphia metro region.

Electric and hybrid cars usually cost more than their gas-driven counterparts, however, auto experts say the extra cost is quickly made up in fuel savings. According to the Bankrate website, government rebates and tax incentives can also help defray the added expensive of owning an electric vehicle.

They certainly sound appealing, but electric cars are not without disadvantages. Safety experts say electric cars pose a threat to pedestrian safety. Because they are incredibly quiet, electric vehicles have been linked to an increase in pedestrian accidents.

If you have been injured in any kind of auto accident, you have important rights. Speak to a car accident attorney as soon as possible, as you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.

Electric Cars and the Rise in Pedestrian Injuries

When you’re accustomed to the distinctive rev of a car’s engine when you start it up or pull away from a parking spot, getting behind the wheel of an electric car can be a bit disconcerting. These vehicles are nearly soundless, which has prompted some auto manufacturers to add simulated engine noises to their vehicles to make drivers feel more comfortable. In fact, carmakers even use the same “fake” engine sounds in the latest gas vehicles, which are more fuel-efficient and naturally quieter than models produced in years past.

In the case of electric cars, however, highway regulators began noticing a troubling trend as early as the mid-2000s. A sudden jump in pedestrian injuries and deaths prompted the government to take a closer look at electric vehicles.

In 2009, a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that electric and hybrid cars were twice as likely to cause a pedestrian accident. A follow-up study in 2011 discovered that electric and hybrid vehicles caused 35 percent more pedestrian crashes than cars with combustion engines. The Highway Loss Data Institute examined pedestrian crashes over a seven-year period and found that electric and hybrid cars were 20 percent more likely to be involved in a pedestrian accident. Several organizations that promote the rights of the blind and vision impaired population also came forward, claiming soundless electric vehicles create a major safety hazard for people with vision loss and blindness.

With so much evidence on the table, Congress took action. Federal lawmakers passed the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, which required the Department of Transportation to create new regulations for auto makers with respect to “pedestrian alerts” that will warn people when an electric car is in motion. The Act requires alert noises for hybrid and electric cars moving at speeds under 18 miles per hour, which is when cars are most likely to be in an environment with a large number of pedestrians. The NHTSA has released sample sounds for the proposed alerts.

Were You Injured by a Negligent Driver?

Whether a motorist is driving a gas-powered car, an electric vehicle, or a motorcycle, they are responsible for their actions behind the wheel. If you have been injured by a negligent driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other losses. Each case is different, but you may be eligible to receive money for:

  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage

Certainly, drivers of electric and hybrid vehicles must be hypervigilant when driving in areas with a heavy concentration of pedestrians. Electric and hybrid cars may be increasingly common, but they are still an emerging technology. Many people are unaccustomed to a vehicle that doesn’t make noise. If you drive an electric or hybrid vehicle, it’s important to keep your eyes on the road whenever you drive.

Get Help in Your Auto Accident Case

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident, don’t wait to speak to a car accident lawyer about your case. Waiting too long to call a lawyer could hurt your chances of obtaining a full and fair recovery.

Have you been hurt by a negligent driver? Get help from a Philadelphia auto accident injury lawyer Rand Spear call today at 888-373-4LAW to speak to a car accident injury lawyer about your options