Honda Hybrid hits pedestrians

Hybrid vehicles, which creep along almost silently at low speeds on electric power, are more likely to hit pedestrians or bicycles than regular cars, a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds.


The report  is sure to give a boost to the movement to require hybrid cars to include noisemakers so that bikers, pedestrians — especially the blind — know they are coming. Several makers already say they have such a system on the way.

The NHTSA report was actually done about a month ago, but didn’t come to light until it was reported by  Consumer Reports last week. It compared the rate of accidents among hybrid vehicles and powered only by gas engines when it comes to pedestrians and bikes. Said Consumer Reports on its blog:

“NHTSA looked at state-level crash files to compare crash rates on these two types of vehicles. Out of 8,387 hybrids 77 (or 0.9%) were involved in crashes with pedestrians. Out of 559,703 conventional vehicles studied, 3,578 (or 0.6%) were involved in crashes with pedestrians. In crashes involving bicyclists, 48 (or almost 0.6%) were involved in crashes with a hybrid vehicle whereas conventional vehicles were implicated in 1,862 (or 0.3%) of crashes.”

It’s a shame in a way. For decades, automakers have been trying to figure out how to make cars quieter. So finally they come up with vehicles so quiet that about the only sounds is the gravel crushing under the wheels and, lo and behold, it could be too dangerous because no one can hear it coming.

So the question is, how to create the proper hybrid noisemaker? Should it be a high-tech, spaceship sound? Maybe make it kind of a white noise like a TV that doesn’t work? Once Drive On heard a car coming a half-mile away. When it came into sight, it was a 1963 Chevrolet Impala low-rider blaring Led Zeppelin from a pair of forward-aimed speakers. Thought it was pretty cool at the time.

Via USA Today