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Silent, But Deadly: Government Places Restrictions on Hybrid Cars to Protect Pedestrians

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Hybrid cars have many benefits. They emit less carbon dioxide, they use less gasoline and in the long-term can provide savings thanks to their fuel economy (though the maintenance costs are often high). However, hybrid cars also tend to be very quiet – and that silence can be deadly.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics point out that pedestrians were killed every two hours and injured every eight minutes due to vehicles in 2013. The NHTSA believes that roughly 2,400 of those injuries occurred due to hybrid vehicles. One contributing factor to pedestrian accidents involving hybrids is the lack of noise that the vehicles produce. Pedestrians unable to hear approaching hybrids are more likely to sustain injury or die in pedestrian accidents.

The Obama Administration released a new rule in November that will require hybrid vehicles to produce audible noise when traveling in reverse or at speeds of up to 19 mph. At speeds higher than that, hybrids produce noise thanks to tires and wind, so they will not be require to emit additional sounds above that speed.

The rule states that all new hybrid vehicles must be equipped with sound-emitting devices by September 1, 2019.


There are steps that pedestrians can take to avoid pedestrian accidents.

  1. Look both ways before crossing the street, including at crosswalks when the pedestrian has the right of way.
  2. Pay attention to stoplights and road signs.
  3. Only cross in crosswalks.
  4. When crossing, pay attention to approaching vehicles.
  5. If you have been drinking, do not walk alone.
  6. Wear bright clothing and reflective material at night.
  7. Use sidewalks whenever possible.

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

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