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How Can Electric Cars Be Made Safer?

electric cars

Electric and hybrid cars have been increasing in popularity every year since 1997 when Toyota introduced their first hybrid to the public, the Prius.  Electric cars bring many benefits to the consumer: better mileage, reduced emissions, and lower noise pollution.  However, for pedestrians and bicyclists, electric vehicles pose a potentially dangerous threat for being involved in a car accident.  

Electric Car Sounds

Internal combustion engines make noise that can be heard regardless of speed; combined with tire noise and wind noise, most pedestrians can hear an approaching gasoline-type vehicle.  On the other hand, electric and hybrid cars are nearly silent, especially at lower speeds.  This poses a major problem in cityscapes and areas where there is pedestrian traffic or bicyclist presence.  

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently found that electric or hybrid cars are 37 percent more likely to cause a pedestrian accident than gasoline cars; for bicyclists, it is more than 57 percent.  The NHTSA then issued a rule that Congress made law to help regulate electric car safety.  After 2019, any newly manufactured electric or hybrid vehicle must make a warning noise when traveling 19 mph or less, either forward or in reverse.  However, it does not completely solve the problem.  

Many people are used to what a gasoline engine sounds like, making it easier to decipher what an oncoming car sounds like.  Car manufacturers, who are now required by law to provide an audible alert when their electric vehicle is traveling at low speeds, must decide what exactly that sounds like.  It is likely that accidents will still occur, as most people, particularly younger people or those in rural or less densely populated areas, will need time to adjust to the new sounds and alarms.    

Fortunately, research groups from Virginia Tech and around the country are working on better acoustic technology to improve pedestrian safety and electric car awareness.  These research groups are working closely with car manufacturers such as General Motors in simulating realistic environments for testers to one day develop better pedestrian detection performance.   

Plugged-In Problems

As electric car population grows, so is the need to keep these vehicles charged and ready to use.  Many cities are installing charging stations on the streets to meet this demand.  However, this poses a major problem, as charging cables are now littering sidewalks and pedestrian walkways, causing trips, falls, and other hazards.  This makes it difficult for pedestrians to navigate.  Also, should they fall, it will be difficult to find the owner of a parked vehicle for liability concerns, as councils in various cities are placing the responsibility of safety on the car’s driver, not the city itself.

Electric Driver Safety

Many car manufacturers believe that because electric cars must now be fitted with an acoustic warning system, this will allow drivers to place the responsibility for pedestrian safety on the pedestrians themselves, instead of drivers having to focus on safety.  

Drivers must also get used to the silence of electric cars, especially when switching from years of driving a gasoline engine and becoming knowledgeable of the sounds they make.  Many drivers also use engine sounds to determine what speed they are traveling; driving in silence deters one’s perception and can lead to speeding accidents and dangerous situations.  

Egg Harbor Township Car Accident Lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm Help Those Injured in Electric Car Accidents

Although they are safer for the environment than gasoline-driven vehicles, electric cars are not as safe for pedestrians as may be imagined.  If you have been injured in an accident or by another’s negligent driving, reach out to the Egg Harbor Township car accident lawyers at the D’Amato Law Firm.  Our experienced and knowledgeable team has years of experience with cases such as this and are determined to get the compensation for which you are entitled. Call us today at 609-926-3300 or contact us online for a free consultation. With an office in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, we assist accident victims in Atlantic City, Linwood, Galloway Township, Cape May, Vineland, Millville, Bridgeton, Ocean City, Woodbury, and across South Jersey.