Hybrid Vehicles Increase Risk of Pedestrian Accidents in South Florida

As a part of the bipartisan Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 (PSEA), officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are proposing that electric and hybrid vehicles meet a minimum sound standard. They’re asking vehicles to be a little louder to help to reduce the risks of pedestrian accidents. Officials are worried that pedestrians aren’t hearing these quiet vehicles approaching and are at higher risks for an accident because of it.

“Safety is our highest priority, and this proposal will help keep everyone using our nation’s streets and roadways safe, whether they are motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians, and especially the blind and visually impaired,” said USDOT’s Ray LaHood.

Our West Palm Beach accident attorneys understand that electric and hybrid vehicles don’t run on traditional gasoline and when they’re traveling at slower speeds, they’re hard to hear — especially for pedestrians. Under the most recent proposal, officials are asking that Congress mandate that these vehicles meet a minimum standard for their sound.

Under the proposal, officials are offering carmakers the freedom to design sounds that they feel will be effective, but the noise must ultimately meet a minimum requirement. Not only is this move for the safety of pedestrians, it’s also for the bicycle riders and those who are visually impaired. Our ears are powerful tools in reducing our risks for accidents — except when fooled by exceptionally quiet new hybrid technologies.

The bottom line is that these vehicles need to be heard over the noise of our streets and other background sounds when traveling slower than 18 miles per hour. Officials believe that these cars are loud enough when traveling faster.

Officials with the NHTSA believe that if this passed, then there were be nearly 3,000 fewer bicycle and pedestrian accidents over the life of each model year of these kinds of cars, vans and trucks.

A move like this would mpact the travelers in the state of Florida. The Sunshine State is ranked as one of the most dangerous in the country for pedestrian and bicycle accidents. The beautiful weather we appreciate year round provides the perfect opportunity for outdoor and on-foot travel. It’s during this time of year, with tourist season and Spring Break, that we see some of the highest risks for these kinds of accidents.

In 2010, there were close to 500 pedestrians killed in the state of Florida. We were ranked the second most dangerous for these kinds of accidents over the year — only behind the state of California.

While traveling along Southwest Florida roads, pedestrians are asked to use their eyes and ears to stay safe. Make sure you’re aware of the vehicular traffic around you — even if it’s tough to hear.