It used to be that silence was golden. Now, silence could kill.
New models of quiet cars can be so noiseless that they can kill pedestrians because they could not hear them coming. Technology really is amazing, but unfortunately not always that well thought out. While it’s nice that new cars are being marketed to discriminating buyers, one of the latest newcomers in the arena is the hybrid creep – which may also describe your daughter’s boyfriend.
In actual fact, the hybrid creep is what those gas-electric vehicles are being called; cars that hardly make any sound at all when they are going at a low speed. Noiseless vehicles are a potential danger to young children, the elderly and the blind. Think about that for a minute. Those who are blind rely on sound cues to find out where moving motor vehicles are in relation to their positions. If they can’t hear the hybrid creep, they may well walk right out in front of it; a step that may end up being deadly.
Advocates for the blind have been asking for years to have some kind of artificial noise built into these creeps in the hopes it will avert pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries. At the moment, the creeps only make up about 2 percent of new vehicle sales every year, but automakers are expected to ship more of these vehicles before the rigorous U.S. fuel efficiency standards are put into effect within the next 10 years.
No one can argue this isn’t a good thing, but conversely, it’s likely too much of a good thing. These vehicles are now so quiet that it has added a very real concern about how dangerous they may be for a certain segment of the population. To add fuel to the fire, a 2009 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report reveals that creeps are twice as likely to be involved in pedestrian crashes at low speeds as compared to vehicles with regular noisy engines.
In 2008, at least 4,300 pedestrians were killed; some as a result of being hit by creeps/hybrids and some as a result of being hit by regular vehicles. Right now, government is taking a look at the risks for pedestrians when the creeps and the all-electric vehicles are doing less than 30 km/h. Vehicles booting it faster than that make a louder sonic noise.
To date, Congress has been smart enough to listen to the calls for changes and is adding sound performance requirements for creeps and electric cars into a bill under consideration in the wake of the Toyota recalls. How that will shake down in the future is anyone’s guess, but by and large it should be a good move and improve the vehicle’s safety.
If you have been in an accident involving a creep or electric car, make it a point to discuss your case with a skilled New Mexico personal injury lawyer; a seasoned advocate who can ensure you get justice and fair and equitable compensation for any injuries you may have received.
Scott Atkinson was admitted to practice in New Mexico in 1989 and is a New Mexico personal injury lawyer and New Mexico wrongful death lawyer with the Atkinson Law Firm, LTD. Learn more at Attorneynewmexico.com or call 1.505.944.1050.