If a new rule, proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today, becomes final, hybrid and electric cars could be required to produce pollution. OK, it’s just noise pollution. (But that really should count.) Under the new rule, “quiet cars” would have to emit some sort of sound when they move slower than 18 miles per hour.
Because, let’s admit it, hybrids and EVs are creepers. They glide silently along, not letting on that they’re there, until they’re right behind you or in front of you. As one advocate for the rule put it, “I’m sure all of us have experienced at some time the fear of getting struck by a Prius.”
Which, yes, we have. And it’s not irrational — 35 people die this way each year, and another 2,800 are injured. According NHSTA, Prii and their ilk are twice as likely as gas-guzzling cars to hit pedestrians while “backing up, slowing or stopping, starting in traffic or entering or leaving a parking space or driveway,” Bloomberg says. They’re like your annoying sibling whom you love but who decides it’s fun to sneak up behind you and jump on your back, except imagine your sibling is a couple tons of metal. And while we do love us some hybrids and EVs, we love pedestrians and cyclists more. So we’re going to say that, on balance, this is probably a good idea.