There have been a number of different breakthroughs in the automobile industry; such breakthroughs include the self-driving cars, lane assist as well as what is referred to as electric hybrid cars. While these breakthroughs provide ease and convenience to the driver, some of them have resulted in an increase of accidents. “A new study shows an alarmingly large number of pedestrians lose their lives each year as a result of motor vehicle accident. In 2017, approximately 6 000 pedestrians died as a result of a car striking them. This indicates an increasing trend in the number of cars that hit people every year.”
One article points out that, while it is true that there are many potential reasons for such a trend in loss of life in motor vehicle pedestrian accidents; “there is one source of pedestrian accidents that has increased in recent years. More people than ever drive electric hybrid vehicles, which are extremely quiet. With most vehicles, someone walking or riding a bike could hear a car approaching and have some time to react accordingly. However, if a pedestrian attempts to cross the street at night then he or she may not hear a hybrid vehicle approaching.” The article went on to say that, “The quietness of the vehicles can also make the driver laxer while behind the wheel. Vehicles with standard combustion engines tends to be noisier when the car travels fast, so motorist have a sense the car is well over the speed limit. With quieter vehicles, the motorist may be completely unaware of the speed of the car, which can drastically increase the severity of injuries if involved in a collision.”
It should be noted that new regulations designed to make hybrid vehicles more perceptible to the human ear were introduced in 2010. However, it is only recently that the United States Department of Transportation has actively passed new laws for hybrid vehicles. These laws provide that hybrid automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co. and Tesla Motors Inc. be required to add noises when the vehicles travel below 18 miles an hour. Such developments must be done by September 2019.
When asked to comment about the effect that such laws may have for an individual filing a personal injury claim, one attorney stated; “The introduction of this legislation to add alert sounds to hybrid vehicles traveling below 18 miles per hour basically opens up automakers to becoming defendants in lawsuits where they have failed to adhere to the legislation requiring them to add noises to their vehicles. They may find themselves defendants in product liability lawsuits and possibly personal injury claims relating to vehicle accidents. However, any such personal injury lawsuits would have to occur and be made after the deadline of September 2019.”
The transportation department has been quoted as saying that it expects the rules will prevent 2 400 injuries a year in 2020 and will require the adding of alert sounds to about 530 000 vehicles. However, more time is required to see if such changes will have a substantial impact on the numbers.
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