NHTSA: Pedestrian and Cyclists Crash Rates Higher For Hybrids

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

An NHTSA report [ PDF] on the “Incidence of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Crashes by Hybrid Electric Passenger Vehicles,” concludes that hybrid-electrics (HEVs) have a higher incidence rate of pedestrian and bicyclist crashes than do internal combustion-only (ICE) vehicles in certain scenarios. And based on the report’s conclusions, it looks like the relative silence of hybrids running in electric-only mode is to blame for the higher accident numbers.

. . . pedestrian and bicyclist crashes involving both HEVs and ICE vehicles commonly occurred on roadways, in zones with low speed limits, during daytime and in clear weather, with higher incidence rates for HEVs when compared to ICE vehicles. A variety of crash factors were examined to determine the relative incidence rates of HEVs versus ICE vehicles in a range of crash scenarios. For one group of scenarios, those in which a vehicle is slowing or stopping, backing up, or entering or leaving a parking space, a statistically significant effect was found due to engine type. The HEV was two times more likely to be involved in a pedestrian crash in these situations than was an ICE vehicle. Vehicle maneuvers such as slowing or stopping, backing up, or entering or leaving a parking space, were grouped in one category based on that these maneuvers are potentially have occurred at very low speeds where the difference between the sound levels produced by the hybrid versus ICE vehicle is the greatest.

At speeds above 35 MPH, the statistical differences between the percentage of hybrids and ICE vehicles involved in pedestrian and cyclist crashes are insignificant. Below those speeds, and while engaging in the maneuvers described above, the statistical difference becomes clear. What this indicates is that the silence of electric drive vehicles is, statistically speaking, a safety issue. Expect this study to figure into ongoing efforts to pass legislation, like H.R. 734, requiring sound standards for electric-drive vehicles.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Dmrdano Dmrdano on Nov 11, 2009

    BomberPete, I apologize if it seemed I was implying it was the cyclists' fault for not riding single file in this picture. The pic was posted without context, that being a race and a drunk driver. I really was commenting on bikers in general, being one myself. They/I/we often contribute to accidents by riding all over the road carelessly. This does not absolve a careless and/or illegal driver, but it shows there are things we can do to protect ourselves from these people. Spanner77, you are right that holding drivers accountable for all accidents is unjust. However, like or not, public roads in the U.S. (not including freeways) are generally "shared space" according to the law. (To label it socialism is to demonstrate you do not understand socialism.) However, the wise cyclist picks his routes well to avoid the danger of high speed cars.

  • GS650G GS650G on Nov 11, 2009

    Even some ICE cars are so quiet they are sonically invisible until the idiot driving decides to pass on a blind turn while leaving no space between his fender and me.

  • MaintenanceCosts "But your author does wonder what the maintenance routine is going to be like on an Italian-German supercar that plays host to a high-revving engine, battery pack, and several electric motors."Probably not much different from the maintenance routine of any other Italian-German supercar with a high-revving engine.
  • 28-Cars-Later "The unions" need to not be the UAW and maybe there's a shot. Maybe.
  • 2manyvettes I had a Cougar of similar vintage that I bought from my late mother in law. It did not suffer the issues mentioned in this article, but being a Minnesota car it did have some weird issues, like a rusted brake line.(!) I do not remember the mileage of the vehicle, but it left my driveway when the transmission started making unwelcome noises. I traded it for a much newer Ford Fusion that served my daughter well until she finished college.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Couple of questions: 1) who will be the service partner for these when Rivian goes Tits Up? 2) What happens with software/operating system support when Rivia goes Tits Up? 3) What happens to the lease when Rivian goes Tits up?
  • Richard I loved these cars, I was blessed to own three. My first a red beauty 86. My second was an 87, 2+2, with digital everything. My third an 87, it had been ridden pretty hard when I got it but it served me well for several years. The first two I loved so much. Unfortunately they had fuel injection issue causing them to basically burst into flames. My son was with me at 10 years old when first one went up. I'm holding no grudges. Nissan gave me 1600$ for first one after jumping thru hoops for 3 years. I didn't bother trying with the second. Just wondering if anyone else had similar experience. I still love those cars.