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Hybrid cars are known for being silent under twenty miles per hour and virtually undetectable by audio means under five miles per hour. This is why according to the governments auto safety agency that in 2009 Hybrid cars are twice as likely to be involved in pedestrian collisions at speeds under twenty miles per hour than non-hybrid cars. Hybrids also are a bane to the blind or visually impaired as they rely on audio cues to help determine if cars are nearby on the road.
Automakers all seem to be taking this seriously and already you can start finding some Hybrid cars like the Nissan Leaf having an artificial whirring sound on the vehicles to help people hear when the car is approaching. General Motors, Toyota and other companies are following suit before the Government makes it a requirement that all Hybrid or Electric cars produce an audible noise that can make people aware of their presence. I think this is a good idea and that the companies should be on top of it.
We all want cars to be quieter, but if cars were completely silent they will clearly pose more of a risk, especially to children and others who cross the road and might not always be so aware of looking all the time but the sound of a car is enough to warn them. My three year old for instance walks down the side of a road and when he hears a car or a truck he immediately speeds up toward his mother or me and lets us know that a car or truck is coming and he doesn’t want to get “crushed” and this is a prime example of a kid hearing the car coming from behind and knowing it is approaching before he sees it.
So remember if driving one of the older model Hybrids that are nearly silent at lower speeds to be double aware of pedestrians and see if they are making eye contact and notice your car visually, they probably will not hear the car coming if you are going under 20 miles per hour.