Pedestrians, Bicyclists More Likely to Collide with Hybrids

As automakers have strived over the years to make vehicles quieter, they may be taking a step back towards noise again. A National Traffic Highway Safety Administration study shows that hybrid powered vehicles are more likely to strike pedestrians and bicyclists than non-hybrid cars.

The NTHSA study observed 8387 hybrid vehicles and 559,703 standard cars. It showed that the almost-silent hybrid vehicles were 50 percent more likely to strike a pedestrian and 100 percent more likely to hit bicyclists.

Some hybrids are able to run solely on battery power at low city speeds, where the only sounds produced comes from the tires meeting the road surface and the electric motors whirring. Blind pedestrians are a major concern in this study as they rely heavily on auditory input.

Automakers are studying the implementation of artificial noise that would help alert pedestrians of an approaching vehicle. Governments around the world are also considering a mandatory noise be produced by hybrid vehicles. Different types of noises are being studied such as white noise and artificial internal combustion engine sounds. So does this mean that a Prius could sound like an F1 racer? Stay tuned to find out.

Source: USA Today