According to an article in The Washington Post, hybrid and electric cars can pose an unexpected risk. The concern expressed in Japan and here in the U.S. is that these new breeds of cars are so quiet, they may pose a risk to pedestrians who cannot hear them coming.
In response, regulatory committees are exploring "non-visual" cues to warn pedestrians that the cars are approaching. But the industry is divided on whether there is a problem and even those that agree that there may be, don’t agree on a solution. Some are experimenting with fake noises to signal the approach of the vehicles and others hate that idea. In any event, it is clear that this new generation of cars are quiet at start-up and at low speeds up to about 15 m.p.h:
It does not appear that the issue will be resolved anytime soon but as hybrid and electric cars become more common, keep your eyes and ears open as you walk the streets.
Bret Hanna of Wrona DuBois in Utah, focuses exclusively on litigating plaintiffs’ medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has represented clients in state and federal courts, in mediations, and in administrative proceedings in Michigan and Utah since 1991.