Silence Isn’t Golden – Electric Vehicles and Pedestrian Safety

Electric vehicles (EVs) continue to gain popularity as battery technology improves and charging stations become more widely available. Besides the obvious benefits of reduced fuel consumption and emissions, electric vehicles operate in near silence, which is great if you’re driving.

That silence, though, creates a new hazard for pedestrians. Without the usual engine noise as a warning, it’s too easy to step out in front of a moving electric vehicle (or behind one that’s backing out of a parking space). Statistics bear this out: quiet vehicles are 37 percent more likely to strike a pedestrian than gas-powered ones are.

Last year a law took effect requiring new electric vehicles to emit an alert sound when they’re traveling below about 20 miles per hour, which is expected to prevent some 2,400 injuries annually.

But there are thousands upon thousands of electric vehicles without that safety feature already on the road, so here are some safety tips for both drivers and pedestrians:

Drivers of any kind of vehicle should always give the right of way to pedestrians in a crosswalk, but this is doubly important with EVs. In parking lots especially, pay careful attention to extra safety features like blind-spot sensors and rear-view cameras. And make sure you discuss the particular hazards of driving a stealthy electric vehicle with any teens or younger drivers using the car.

Pedestrians should wear bright or reflective clothing, and use their eyes just as much as their ears. In parking lots, leave some space between yourself and any vehicles that might be backing out of a space, and pay extra attention in areas reserved for electric vehicles.

The best advice for drivers and pedestrians alike: never assume that the other party sees you.

Questions about vehicle safety or auto coverage? Contact Consolidated Insurance.