As distracted driving continues to assert itself as a factor in more and more traffic deaths, one safety issue with newer cars has the opposite effect and goes under the radar. Designers spend a lot of time getting the audio signals right for various driver assistance features and even speaker systems to reduce distracted driving, helping drivers in bigger vehicles talk to passengers in the back without turning around.
But while drivers may be protected, pedestrians may be increasingly vulnerable to accidents involving hybrid or electric cars that don’t make noise. At low speeds these vehicles are virtually inaudible.
The NHTSA has several times delayed putting a rule on pedestrian safety sounds into effect that could protect vulnerable pedestrians — despite being urged by the Department of Transportation.
Some cars, like the Nissan Leaf have systems like the Approaching Vehicle Sound for alerting pedestrians, but others, like the Tesla Model S, do not have them. As yet, there is no industry standard for electric vehicle warnings. Designers have encountered problems with designing sounds that not only alert pedestrians to the approach of a vehicle, but also from where it is approaching. Lower frequency sounds don’t do this as well. Higher frequency sounds do better but require more volume, which could cause distraction to a driver. Currently pedestrians may be at risk from electric cars that don’t have alert sounds, and as yet there are no rules to ensure these standards are in place.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian accident involving an electric car, please contact the expert Boston Pedestrian Accident Lawyers at Parker | Scheer LLP today for a free, confidential consultation. (617) 886-0500
For more on this topic, please consult the following article: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/11/automobiles/autoreviews/a-vehicles-sound-system-can-be-a-matter-of-life-and-death.html?_r=0