Are Electric Cars Too Quite To Be Safe On the Road?

Pedestrians and bicyclists beware! An electric car could get you! A problem has arisen with electric cars. That problem is that electric cars don't make a lot of noise. That is a good thing for the driver and passenger but a potentially dangerous situation for pedestrians and bicyclists. Pedestrian and bicycle may not hear an electric car approaching, and if they aren't paying attention, this could cause an accident.

Related: Kentucky Pedestrian Safety Tips

Be aware of your surroundings
The goal of electric cars manufacturers was to develop and make their cars as quite as possible, as if the occupants were riding on air. This lack of noise can be extremely dangerous for those who depend on the noise of a car to avoid an accident. For example, when I am riding my bicycle on the road, it is hard for me to hear an electric car until it is right next to me and passing me. It is as if it appeared from nowhere, and it startles me. My wife has had a similar experience while she is out walking. I have heard her complain about cars sneaking up on her. This can be dangerous, and it is just as dangerous for pedestrians crossing the road at a crosswalk. If a car making a turn doesn't see the pedestrian or if the pedestrian doesn't see or hear the car, the likelihood of an accident increases.

What are electric car companies doing about this?
Engineers are developing equip for electric cars with artificial noises. At a meeting in September 2009, Nissan presented several proposed sounds to the National Highway Safety Administration. These artificial noises included:

  • The Chime
  • The Melody
  • A Futuristic Whirl

Congress is looking into legislation that would require vehicles to give “non-visual” warnings to pedestrians. There is a divide as to whether these sounds should be added to electric cars. I believe adding sounds to an electric car would help to prevent some serious and deadly accidents involving pedestrians and bicycles. This is especially true in the city.

Related: Louisville, KY - 17th Most Dangerous City For Pedestrians

Near accident
Several years ago, I was waiting for the light to change so I could cross the street. I had my mind on a court hearing I was headed to that day. As the crosswalk sign changed from “Don’t Walk” to “Walk” I put my foot over the curb and stepped into the cross walk. As I was doing this, I heard a loud noise and instinctively stepped back as a bus roared by me as it ran the red light. I was very close to becoming a hood ornament. Without the noise the bus made, I am sure I would have been.

As a Kentucky Accident Attorney, I know there are sounds on crosswalks and in elevators. Putting a noise or warning system on electric cars seems like a no brainer to me. It will make Kentucky roads safer and give bikers and walkers a chance at avoiding a serious car accident.

Michael Schafer
The Personal Injury Attorney for Louisville and Kentucky
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