Research Rest-Stop │ “Incidence Rates of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Crashes by Hybrid Electric Passenger Vehicles: An Update”

Every Wednesday, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) highlights some interesting research related to or innovations in transportation, sustainability, or energy.

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This fall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released an update to a 2009 study that looked at the frequency of hybrid electric vehicles involved in low-speed pedestrian and bicycle accidents. The study compared this number against that of crashes involving automobiles with internal combustion engines. The updated study built on the 2009 NHTSA report by adding new years of crash data and expanding the study sample to 16 states.

NHTSA produced the original report as advocacy groups had expressed concerns about hybrid electric vehicles’ “quiet” operations, which can be more difficult for blind and visually impaired pedestrians to recognize. In order to address these concerns, Congress passed Public Law 111-373 “Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010,” which was authorized by President Obama in January 2011. The law requires “the Secretary of Transportation to study and establish a motor vehicle safety standard that provides for a means of alerting blind and other pedestrians of motor vehicle operation.”

The original 2009 NHTSA report found “that a hybrid electric vehicle was two times more likely to be involved in a pedestrian crash than a vehicle with only an internal combustion engine in situations involving certain low-speed vehicle maneuvers.” The updated report shows that “the odds of a hybrid electric vehicle being in either a pedestrian or bicycle crash are greater than the odds of an internal combustion engine vehicle being in a similar crash.” The report places the odds of hybrid electric vehicles being in such accidents at 35% and 57% for pedestrian and bicycle crashes respectively.

What do you think? How can hybrid electric vehicles better notify pedestrians and bicyclists of their presence?

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