In 2010, Congress passed the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. The law acknowledged that hybrid vehicles are very quiet—especially when operated below 18 miles per hour. Accordingly, Congress required the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop regulations for noise alerts on these quieter hybrid vehicles by January 2014. This deadline was then extended to November 2015…and then to March 2016. Car makers are expected to have 18 months to comply with the new mandates once they are issued.
In the Meantime, Pedestrians Remain at Risk
Since 2009, pedestrian accidents have increased nationally. One of the reasons for this increase may be that pedestrians cannot hear hybrid and electric vehicles approaching the same way that they can hear traditional gas-powered vehicles. While pedestrians may be at greater risk from these quieter vehicles, it is the drivers of the hybrid and electric vehicles who may be liable if a crash occurs.
Drivers should continue to watch for all pedestrians—and particularly for those who may:
- Be blind.
- Have an obstructed view of traffic.
- Be distracted.
- Need extra time crossing the street.
Drivers should reasonably expect that pedestrians will not hear them and drivers should use reasonable care to avoid hitting anyone in the road.
Injured Pedestrians Have Rights
If you have been hurt in a pedestrian accident then you may have the right to recover for your past, current, and future:
- Medical expenses.
- Lost income.
- Out-of-pocket costs.
- Pain and suffering.
However, you will have to take action to secure an insurance settlement or court verdict. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you fight for the recovery that you deserve. When you contact a lawyer make sure to mention whether the car that hit you was a hybrid, as that fact may be relevant to the investigation of your accident. Your time to file a pedestrian accident claim is limited, so please take action today by contacting an attorney for a free consultation.