Being a pedestrian in Florida is dangerous. The risk of being hit by a car while walking is increasing everywhere, but the Sunshine state has one of the highest rates of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in the country. This risk is exacerbated by the proliferation of hybrid and electric vehicles.
Although these cars are great for the environment, they are not so great for people on foot. The reason has to do with the fact that they are so quiet, they “sneak up” on pedestrians, who might otherwise hear the vehicle approach and take appropriate protective measures. The risk is especially out-sized for people who are blind, visually impaired or elderly.
Engine noise in these vehicles is next-to-nothing, usually limited to sounds generated by wind resistance or tire noises – and even that occurs only at moderate speeds. Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a new rule requiring that by September 2019, all newly-manufactured electric vehicles weighing 10,000 pounds or less make some audible noise when traveling either forward or in reverse at speeds of 19 mph or less. Continue reading →