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William R. Kendall

An unexpected silent killer

As electric vehicles and hybrids take up more of the road, there's been an unexpected effect. Their quiet engines are hard for blind and hard of sight pedestrians to locate and it causes up to 2,400 injuries each year.

Studies show an increased collision rate between electric or hybrid vehicles and pedestrians, likely because people can't hear them coming.

With the new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will require all slow moving hybrids and electric cards to emit a sound when traveling up to 19 mph. Anything faster than that creates street noise via tire and wind forces.

While it's a win for blind awareness campaigns, the new measures have two years before the new standard takes effect on Sept. 1, 2019, which means pedestrians need to be extra cautious as the codes catch up.

Historic precedence

The idea of an artificial noise generator makes little sense to many, but concerns about the silence of electric vehicles dates back 100 years. Even before cars, there were "sleigh-bell ordinances" so pedestrians would hear the horse and carriage coming before stepping into the street. The new NHTSA rule continues the tradition as technology advances.

It's not a matter of noise pollution, but sensory awareness to help fully-abled but limited sight pedestrians from catastrophe.

Pedestrian safety as a whole

There is a car-pedestrian caused death roughly every two hours in the United States. There were over 4,700 deaths in 2013 and another 150,000 non-fatal injuries. Pedestrians need to use common sense when crossing the road but basic physics means that any collision between a human and a vehicle is likely to cause serious harm. The warning sounds offer an advantage.

Injuries from an accident can be immediate and require emergency care, but they sometimes take time to surface. Anyone who has been in an accident should file a police report and visit a medical professional as soon as possible. Potential injuries can be more than the physical scratches or broken bones, they may include loss of wages, inability to perform daily chores and mental anguish.

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Law Office of William R. Kendall 775.324.6464

Law Office of William R. Kendall
137 Mt. Rose Street
Reno, NV 89509

Phone: 775-324-6464
Fax: 775-324-3735
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