Over the past few years, traffic accident statistics have been trending down. Increased driver awareness and new technology have helped aid the effort to keep Americans safer on the road. One group, however, has not experienced this increase in safety. Pedestrian accidents have slowly grown, according to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2013, pedestrian deaths represented 14 percent of all traffic accident fatalities, with over 4,700 pedestrians killed. Though there are many contributing factors in these accidents, one serious issue is the increasing prevalence of hybrid and electric vehicles.
Are Hybrid and Electric Cars More Dangerous to Pedestrians?
Hybrid and electric vehicles are much quieter when compared to the traditional internal combustion engine vehicles, especially at lower speeds. Pedestrians cannot hear the quiet cars approaching as easily as they can with traditional vehicles. They may also be visually impaired, not have a clear view of traffic, or simply be distracted. The lack of auditory clues to an oncoming car can increase the risk of an accident. The NHTSA states that hybrid and electric cars are 19 times more likely to be involved in a pedestrian accident than a traditional gas-power car.
Proposed Rule Would Require Auditory Signals
Lawmakers first acknowledged this danger in 2010 with the passage of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. In part, this act required the NHTSA to investigate and evaluate the options for requiring the quiet cars to feature sounds to alert pedestrians of their presence while traveling at lower speeds. In a 2011 report, the NHTSA estimated that sound alerts would save 35 lives and prevent 2,800 injuries a year.
The deadline for a decision on this proposed rule was originally stated for 2014 but has since been pushed back numerous times. The NHTSA has stated a March 2016 deadline, and automakers would have 18 months to comply should the rule be approved.
Drivers Can Be Held Accountable
All drivers should take care and pay attention behind the wheel, but drivers of hybrid and electric cars need to be vigilant and understand that pedestrians may be less aware of their approaching vehicle. When these accidents do occur, the car drivers can be held liable for any injuries sustained by the pedestrian and may be forced to pay damages to cover the pedestrian:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a car accident, you may be eligible to make a claim. Contact the experienced lawyers at the Tapella & Eberspacher Law Firm at (217) 394-5885 to learn more about your rights and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today.