Study Finds Hybrid Vehicles Pose Higher Risk to Cyclists, Pedestrians

According to a new study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, hybrid electric vehicles are twice as likely to be involved in accidents with cyclists and pedestrians, who may not hear the hybrid’s quieter engine.

Researchers examined almost nine thousand hybrid and 600,000 internal combustion engine vehicles in 12 states, including Florida. They found that the car accidents usually occurred at low speeds, when the sound different between the two types of engines is greatest. However, accident rates were similar when the cars were going straight. None of the car crashes studied were fatal.

As hybrid cars gain in popularity, automotive engineers and manufacturers are examining ways to address this safety concern. In the future, they may add a device that would generate noise under certain circumstances to alert pedestrians or bicyclists when the vehicle is backing up or performing other maneuvers.

Broward County is working on a pilot project to give 15 new licenses to fuel-efficient taxis and luxury sedans, and the county’s consumer protections administrator says she may ask drivers about safety concerns when the licenses are awarded in 2010.

Study: Hybrids twice as likely to crash into pedestrians, cyclists, South Florida Sun Sentinel, September 30, 2009
Contact our South Florida car accident law firm if you have been injured on the road.