NHTSA Calls For Louder Hybrid And Electric Vehicles For Safety

On January 7, 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) released Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 14 calling for manufacturers of hybrid and electric automobiles to ensure that their vehicles meet certain minimum sounds standards set forth by the federal Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Ac, (“PSEA”). Passed in 2010, the PSEA directs mandates the Secretary of Transportation promulgate motor vehicle safety standards establishing a requirement that electric and hybrid vehicles provide an alert sound to make pedestrians aware of the approaching vehicles.

According to an NHTSA press release, as a result of the fact they don’t rely on gasoline-power at low speeds, electric and hybrid engines are much quieter and difficult to perceive upon approach than their combustion-based counterparts. Standard 141 seeks to remedy this problem by requiring manufacturers to outfit electric/hybrid vehicles with some mechanism to emit a sound that is detectable beneath a wide range of street noises and ambient sound when the automobile is moving at less than eighteen miles per hour.

According to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, the proposal would “[A]llow manufacturers the flexibility to design different sounds for different makes and models while still providing an opportunity for pedestrians, bicyclists and the visually impaired to detect and recognize a vehicle and make a decision about whether it is safe to cross the street.”
Based upon NHTSA estimates, the implementation of Standard 141 would reduce the number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries by 2,8000 over the life of each model year of hybrid car, truck, vans and low speed vehicle. A 2012 NHTSA report estimates that, in 2010, 4,280 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 70,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States. The report approximates that an average of one pedestrian was killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes in traffic crashes.
According to a 2003 report by the Florida Department Of Transportation, Florida’s pedestrian fatality rate consistently exceeds that of the rest of the United States and often ranks highest among the states. The report concludes that the high fatality rate is largely attributable to the fact that Florida’s temperate climate and seasonal variation in length of day, i.e. nights set in earlier in the South, results in increased pedestrians exposure to traffic during more hazardous dark hours.
With the increasing popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles, coupled with the tendency of Florida residents to walk rather than drive during dangerous dark hours, pedestrians and bicyclists are at greater risk than ever for being injured or killed in a traffic accident. If you, your family or friends have been involved an accident in which you sustained injuries, you may need legal representation to protect your right to compensation.
The qualified Miami, Florida personal injury lawyers at Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. have extensive experience representing car accident victims, pedestrians, and bicyclists who have been injured by negligent drivers. If you are a pedestrian or bicyclist that has been injured by an automobile, or know someone that has, contact our Miami,Florida accident attorneys at Gerson and Schwartz, P.A. today.