Hybrids Pose Extra Risks for Pedestrians

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Hybrids pose extra risks for pedestrians.

Hybrids pose extra risks for pedestrians. (wikipedia.org)

Just last week, we were discussing a report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) – the HLDI is a sister organization to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) – that found hybrids are 25 percent safer for their occupants than standard cars in crashes.

That study looked at the available crash and collision data of 25 hybrid-conventional vehicle pairs (such as the Ford Escape, which is offered in both traditional and hybrid forms) from 2003-2011.

Those results were easy to pinpoint, since the weight of the batteries contained in hybrids make them 10 percent heavier than non-hybrid versions.

“This extra mass gives them an advantage in crashes that their conventional twins don’t have,” Matt Moore, HLDI vice president and one of the authors of the report said.

But with all good things, there’s normally a downside. And another report from the same research organization found that while occupants can expect a higher level of safety from a hybrid car, the same cannot be said for pedestrians. It found hybrids posed extra risks for pedestrians.

In fact, researchers found hybrid cars are 20 percent more likely to hit pedestrians. And the biggest reason why is because hybrids are so quiet, pedestrians don’t here them coming.

While we think the solution is simple – drivers of hybrids should approach intersections or crosswalks with extra caution, and pedestrians should rely on senses besides sound, such as looking both ways before they cross the road.

But simple isn’t standard operating procedure for federal government agencies, and the Department of Transportation is now exploring ways to make hybrids louder.

What sounds do you think hybrids should make to allow them to be more detectable to pedestrians?

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