Pedestrians face many dangers requiring them to be constantly vigilant. In order to avoid danger one must be made aware of its presence by sight and sound. The back-up warning beeps of a commercial vehicle come to mind when we think of a way to warn pedestrians of impending danger. Yet another unseen but less talked about threat to pedestrians are electric cars. One of the benefits to owners of electric cars are that they are quiet according to Sonari Glinton in NPR.org. The strong selling point for drivers poses a hidden risk for pedestrians, especially those who are sight impaired. On Monday November 14, 2016 the U.S. Government finalized rules requiring so-called "quiet cars" to make audible alert beeps when traveling at low speeds.
Passage of New Law Protects Sight Impaired Pedestrians From "Quiet Cars"
Under the 2010 law passed by Congress entitled The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act signed in 2011, NHTSA was supposed to finalize the regulations by January 2014, but the rules were subjected to a lengthy White House review. The new feature will cost car companies $39 million annually because compliance requires an external waterproof speaker, according to Reuters, but the benefits of reduced injuries are estimated at $250 million to $320 million annually. The rules apply to electric cars, hybrid cars, trucks, buses and SUVs that weigh less than five tons. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says hybrids and electric vehicles "will be required to make audible noise when traveling in reverse or forward at speeds up to ... about 19 miles per hour." "We all depend on our senses to alert us to possible danger," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. "With more, quieter hybrid and electrical cars on the road, the ability for all pedestrians to hear as well as see the cars becomes an important factor of reducing the risk of possible crashes and improving safety." NHTSA projects 2,400 fewer pedestrian injuries once the rules are implemented.
Electric Or Hybrid Vehicles More Likely To Be Involved In A Collision With A Pedestrian Or Person On A Bicycle
The agency says an electric or hybrid vehicle is 1.18 times more likely to be involved in a collision with a pedestrian, and 1.51 times more likely to be involved in a collision with a person on a bike, than is a regular gas-powered vehicle. The Auto Alliance, an auto industry group, says its members (which include the major car companies) support the safety goal of the law. I think most would agree this to be a good law and is an example of legislation that congress could agree upon.
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