Look out pedestrians, the hybrids are coming!

Ken Hong November 17, 2011 2
Look out pedestrians, the hybrids are coming!

Recent studies have show that hybrid cars are safer for drivers but more of a safety hazard for pedestrians. Why? The extra mass that comes with an electric car carries extra kinetic energy, making it more absorbent on impact, another reason why big cars like SUVs have a better safety feature. Hybrids on average are 10% heavier than other standard counterparts. The battery itself supposedly adds on 400 lbs alongside the extra components that makes up the drivetrain.

Highway Loss Data Institute found that occupants of a hybrid are roughly 27% less likely to sustain injury while an increase of 20% of injury for pedestrians. The apparently reason is because of Hybrids’ quietness running on electricity, which pedestrians does not hear coming. However, Congress has issued the requirement for National Highway Traffic Safety Administration three years to come up with a sound emitting device that would provide hearing awareness for the unsuspecting pedestrians. Apparently, Japan already has this feature in their 2010 Prius, a humming sound that rises and falls in pitch relative to its speed. This device is said to be coming with the 2012 Prius to the US.

As a side note, the push for the sound device was first started by the National Federation of the Blind, in which some of its members came quite close to a number of near-miss incidents. It’s perfectly understandable that there needs to be some sort of aid for the blind, but I feel no pity for people that have vision to be injured by automobiles. I guess some people were never taught to look both ways before crossing?


  1. Ingeborg November 18, 2011 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    I am not blind but I absolutely do not want cars I cannot hear moving across or on the roads or around the parking lots where I am walking. Many times I could not see around a pickup or van or SUV when the vehicle on the other side was backing up and if I had not heard it first, I might have been injured or killed. There are many an untrimed bush or other obstacle that blocks a full view when my car is turning a corner and ditto when I am crossing some streets on foot. At night, I sometimes hear a car before I see it. Remember we were all taught to “Stop, Look, and LISTEN” before crossing streets?

  2. Ken Hong November 22, 2011 at 1:09 am - Reply

    I get what you’re saying, but at the same time the circumstances that you described should leave plenty of time for the driver/pedestrian to react. Also, let me clarify and say I was aiming more at the people that cross without even looking, and some that are too distracted by their cellular devices to watch where they’re going. I’m afraid they’ve never done the ‘stop, look’ part, either.

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