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Federal Agency Proposes New Safety Standards For Electric And Hybrid Cars

As gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles and fully electric vehicles have become increasingly popular, the pedestrians and bicyclists of New Orleans have had to tread more carefully to avoid a personal injury accident.  These vehicles generate much less noise than their gas-guzzling counterparts, so much so that they have actually been found to pose an increased hazard to these pedestrians and bicyclists.  This is particularly true for people who are visually impaired and rely upon the sound of approaching vehicles when, for example, waiting to cross the street.

In response to this problem the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), has proposed a new set of standards for hybrid and electric vehicles that would require them to artificially emit additional noise when driven at speeds less than 18 mph.  The proposed new rules have been submitted to the Federal Register, where the public may read the full proposal and offer comment before additional action is taken.  If the proposed standards are implemented, the NHTSA estimates that pedestrian and bicyclist injuries would be reduced by 2,800 per year.

The NHTSA proposal includes a recommendation that in addition to emitting extra sound when travelling under 18 mph, hybrid and electric vehicles must be audible on busy urban streets. Car manufacturers will have a variety of sounds to choose from, but the same sound must be used for all vehicles of the same make and model.

Studies have determined that at speeds above 18 mph, the noise produced by the vehicles’ tires and other mechanical parts is sufficiently loud to protect pedestrians and bicyclists without the need for artificial enhancement.

If you or a loved one has been struck by a car, we can answer your questions regarding your legal rights.  Please feel free to call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER.