Next time you take a walk around New Orleans, pay attention to the sound of the cars. While we have all complained at some point about cars and trucks roaring by and disturbing our peace and quiet, a recent study by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that this noise helps pedestrians and bicyclists avoid serious injury.
This government study involved research into accidents involving hybrid vehicles, which usually run on electric power at slower speeds and, as a result, emit little noise. Although the overall number of hybrid vehicles on the roads today is still small, auto manufacturers are releasing several new hybrid and fully electric models in 2012. Over the next few years, use of these vehicles is expected to grow significantly. The NHTSA conducted its study based on concerns that this influx of quiet vehicles may ultimately prove hazardous.
The study found that hybrid cars are twice as likely to strike a pedestrian or bicyclist as vehicles with internal combustion engines. The primary reason for this dramatic difference would appear to be that pedestrians and bicyclists did not hear the hybrid vehicle approaching prior to being struck. While this finding should concern everyone, it is of special significance to the blind and visually impaired, who are at greater risk because they rely on their ability to hear vehicles when walking on or near roadways.
Because the number of hybrid and electric vehicles in use is expected to increase significantly, NHTSA is proposing that these automobiles be required by law to make noise at slower speeds. In an effort to come up with a sound that would both protect others and work for drivers who want a nice, quiet car, NHTSA has both consulted with professional sound studios and accepted proposals on Facebook.
If you have been injured by a car, please feel free to call us at 504-581-6411 or 855-GERTLER. We would be happy to explain your legal rights to you.