While owners of hybrids may be doing their part to save the environment, another concern has been brought to light. Because the vehicles are so quiet, they are twice as likely to hit a cyclist. Unfortunately, the issue is with the sound (or lack thereof) of hybrid vehicles. Because these “green” cars are not running on the standard gasoline motors that have exhausts and mufflers which are heard from a distance, pedestrians and cyclists do not hear them approaching. It is not just vision impaired people who are getting hit. Whether they realize it or not, normal vision individuals use the audio queues of engines to look and see where a vehicle is located. When they hear the hybrid vehicles, it is often too late.
The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 dictates that the DOT has to write a rule to address this issue by January of 2014. Back in January of 2013, the NHTSA proposed a rule that must emit a sound when they traveling below 18.6 miles per hour. Above that speed, these vehicles are thought to make sufficient noise through tires and wind resistance. The NHTSA believes this policy would prevent 2800 injuries a year, and save 35 lives. Many automakers have been critical of the proposed legislation. They would prefer that the noise-makers cut off earlier, at 12-13 miles per hour, and they believe that installation of these noise-making devices will have a detrimental impact on sales.
If that is not enough motivation for hybrid drivers to be careful on the road, they should also be aware that repairs on hybrids are still considerably higher in cost compared to non-hybrid or electric cars.