UK study: Hybrids and EVs are much more likely to hit a pedestrian

Pedestrian deaths in the United States have climbed dramatically over the past five years, likely due to an increase in distracted driving and other factors. Whatever the cause, it’s become clear that hybrids and electric vehicles are more dangerous to pedestrians. A recent study in the UK showed that they’re twice as likely to strike pedestrians than vehicles with combustion engines and up to three times more likely to do so in urban areas.

Before going too far, this isn’t an EV hit piece, and it’s not intended to say that electrified vehicles are bad. They are, however, quieter than gas cars, making it more difficult to hear one approaching, despite being required to generate a sound at lower speeds. They also tend to be driven by younger drivers with less experience. While this study took place in the UK, a 2017 study from the U.S. Department of Transportation showed that EVs and hybrids present a 20 percent higher risk than internal combustion-powered cars, a risk that rises to 50 percent during low speed maneuvers.

One of the study’s authors, Phil Edwards, said, “Electric cars are a hazard to pedestrians because they are less likely to be heard than petrol (gas) or diesel cars. The government needs to mitigate these risks if they are going to phase out the sale of petrol and diesel cars. If you’re moving to an electric car, remember that it’s a new kind of vehicle. They are much quieter than the old-fashioned cars, and pedestrians have learned to navigate roads by listening for traffic. Drivers of these vehicles need to be extra cautious.”

Edwards also cited EVs’ stronger acceleration and greater weight as problems that can extend their stopping distances. His view is that if the government is going to promote electrification, it also needs to step in with more robust requirements to make pedestrians safer.

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