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Hybrid vehicles more dangerous to peds, bikes

October 21, 2009

Some years ago, the sight-impaired community began asking about the danger posed by quieter hybrid electrive vehicles (HEVs) compared to Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles, a concern because sight-impaired pedestrians rely almost entirely on vehicle noise to navigate street crossings. A new report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests they are, although the sample size was too low to get a sense of how large the problem is nationally.

According to the study: “A variety of crash factors were examined to determine the relative incidence rates of HEVs versus ICE vehicles in a range of crash scenarios. For one group of scenarios, those in which a vehicle is slowing or stopping, backing up, or entering or leaving a parking space, a statistically significant effect was found due to engine type. The HEV was two times more likely to be involved in a pedestrian crash in these situations than was an ICE vehicle.”

In other words, in low-speed situations, when hybrids are most quiet, they pose double the risk to pedestrians and bicyclists. Some words of caution to those of us driving hybrid vehicles. See the full study at http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811204.PDF.