Electric cars from Tesla, Nissan and other automakers continue to make headlines, but anyone who’s had one sneak up behind them while on foot knows how quiet they are. These vehicles, along with hybrid cars, run much more quietly than gas-powered cars and can pose a serious risk to unaware pedestrians.
Starting in 2019, a new law will require electric and hybrid vehicles to emit alert sounds whenever they’re traveling at or below 18.6 mph. According to the DOT, vehicles that travel above 18.6 mph generate enough tire and wind noise to alert any pedestrians around them. However, the agency believes that adding alert noises when these vehicles are moving under this speed will help prevent about 2,400 injuries every year.
That doesn’t mean you should ignore this risk until then—quiet vehicles are 37 percent more likely to hit a pedestrian than gas-powered vehicles.
Here are some tips that both drivers and pedestrians can use to stay safe:
- Never assume that a vehicle isn’t around you just because you can’t hear an engine.
- Always look left and right before walking onto a street or parking lot.
- Be especially careful when walking near parking lots that have reserved spaces for hybrid and electric vehicles.
- Wear reflective or bright clothing to make yourself more visible to drivers.
- Always assume that pedestrians haven’t seen or heard you when driving in crowded areas.
- Check to see if your vehicle has safety features like automatic brakes, collision warnings or blind-spot sensors.
- Always give the right of way to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
- Discuss pedestrian safety with your teen drivers, especially if they drive a hybrid or electric vehicle.
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