Hybrids are “significantly” more likely to have low-speed accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians than normal gas-powered cars, according to a new study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Hybrids that were turning, slowing or backing up were twice as likely to strike a cyclist or pedestrian because the electric motor makes so little noise. Advocates for the blind have been making this point for years, but this study confirms that hybrids can be a low-speed danger to the sighted, too.
The idea of adding a noise-generating device to hybrids has been tossed around, and Nissan has already made a presentation to NHTSA about creating a sound mechanism. Lotus and other companies have also tested similar devices.
Researchers examined more than 8,000 hybrid crashes and nearly 560,000 involving standard internal-combustion-engine vehicles in 12 states to collect their data. None of the low-speed crashes produced any fatalities, and it was only at these low speeds that hybrids were more dangerous.