Just like a deer in headlights.
That's how some pedestrians and bicyclists feel when they encounter new electric and hybrid vehicles. Many of us listen for approaching vehicles. The roar of their engine serves as a warning sign. But when we can't hear these vehicles coming, the risks for accidents increase exponentially.
That's why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the bipartisan Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 is proposing to get these new, quieter vehicles to meet some sort of minimum sound standard.
"This proposal will help keep everyone using our nation's streets and roadways safe, whether they are motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians, and especially the blind and visually impaired," said Ray LaHood, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
Our Asheville injury attorneys know that hybrid vehicles continue to grow in popularity. With the new wave of quiet and power-efficient makes, these kinds of vehicles are operating much more quietly and are alarmingly difficult for pedestrians and bicyclists to detect.
Under the new proposal, the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141, vehicles would not be allowed to be so quiet. Officials want them to be louder so that those around can detect the location, presence and direction of these vehicles -- even when traveling at slower speeds.
David Strickland with the NHTSA says that the proposal would allow carmakers to play with different sounds to help to ensure that the vehicles are heard. This is also an important move for those who are visually impaired and traveling on foot near vehicular traffic.
Officials say that the sounds need to be able to be detected under a number of street noises and noise. This is most important when a vehicle is traveling under 20 mph. It is said that when vehicles travel faster, they make enough noise to alert pedestrians and bicyclists of their approach. Each auto manufacturer would have a number of choices of sounds that it could use, there are virtually no limits to that, but the tones and pitches of sounds chosen must meet a list of requirements. It would also be required to make sure that all vehicles that are alike, under the same model -- would need to make the same kinds of noises.
Regardless of how loud a car may or may not be, pedestrians and bicyclists should always make sure they're aware of their surroundings at all times. While we rely heavily on our hearing while traveling, it's important that we physically look and see what's around us. Try to stay one step ahead of the traffic around you and help to ensure safe travels.