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Is the quiet electric car a liability issue?

Many California motorists choose electric cars because of their fuel economy and reduced impact on the environment. While electric vehicles are economical and environmentally friendly, they also can pose dangers to pedestrians and other road users because of how quiet they are.

Why quiet electric vehicles are potentially dangerous

Electric vehicles have very quiet motors and barely produce a slight hum as they run. With regular gas-operated motors, the sound of approaching cars can alert pedestrians and other motorists so that they have time to react to avoid accidents. Since electric vehicles do not emit loud sounds, pedestrians might not see them before stepping off of a sidewalk to cross the road, and other motorists might not hear them in time to avoid collisions.

What can be done to make electric vehicles more noticeable?

Manufacturers have been adding artificial sounds to electric vehicles so that others can hear them as they approach. Some vehicles emit loud sounds as they draw close to pedestrians. However, the vehicles should have sounds that start to emit from further away and grow louder the closer they get to other vehicles or people. This might allow others to react in time to avoid pedestrian accidents or motor vehicle collisions.

Owners of electric vehicles may want to investigate options that they might have to add sound to their cars so that others can hear them as they approach. Adding sound to the exteriors of electric vehicles might help to reduce the risk of pedestrian and motor vehicle collisions. Drivers should also remain alert and focused on the road so that they can react in time to avoid accidents even if others might not notice them.