Pedestrian safety law requires alarms on hybrid cars

January 11, 2011

Washington – A bill intended to prevent “quiet” electric or hybrid motor vehicles from posing a safety risk to pedestrians was signed into law by President Barack Obama on Jan. 4.

The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act (S. 841) requires the Secretary of Transportation to study and establish a motor vehicle safety standard for alerting blind and other pedestrians of hybrid motor vehicle operation. The law also requires manufacturers to provide each vehicle with at least one alert sound at the time of manufacture. It does not specify the type of alert sound.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in September 2009 released a technical report that compared the number of pedestrian and bicyclist crashes involving hybrid electric vehicles and internal combustion engine vehicles. Findings show due to the quietness of HEV engines, the vehicles have higher incidence crash rates compared to ICE vehicles.