Electric Vehicle Accidents

EV Bicycle and Pedestrian Injury Lawyers

There are 30,470 registered electric vehicles (EVs) in Massachusetts and 2,250 in Rhode Island as of June 2022. While these vehicles promise a future with less air and noise pollution, those benefits come with a very real drawback. Pedestrians and bicyclists often don’t hear the electric vehicle coming.

Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Bicycle and Pedestrian Accidents

Hybrid electric vehicles became available to consumers in 2000. By 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research found that HE vehicles were two times more likely than gas vehicles to be involved in pedestrian crashes at low speeds. Further research in 2011 found that regardless of make or model, the odds of a hybrid or electric vehicle getting in a pedestrian accident or bicycle crash were significantly greater than a gas-powered vehicle.

Although that research was criticized for its limitations, and research in other countries found no difference, it did increase the visibility of the “quiet car” problem.

At low speeds, hybrid cars and all-electric vehicles are significantly quieter than gas cars. Sound alerts bikers and pedestrians to an approaching vehicle’s distance, direction, and speed. Without sound, those outside the car don’t have the information they would normally rely on to prevent a bike-EV collision. That’s especially true for children.

EV Manufacturer Responsibility and Vehicle Recalls

Congress passed the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act in 2010 but it’s taken more than a decade to enact it. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 141, Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles was finalized in July 2022 and is now in effect.

All hybrid and electric vehicles manufactured since 2020 must come with a pedestrian-warning system (also called an acoustic vehicle alerting system (AVAS)). The vehicle must make noise when the car is travelling below 18.6 mph. But not all electric and hybrid vehicles on the road may have this minimum sound safety feature.

Some EVs have always had low speed acoustic system, like the Chevy Volt, which included a vacuum-like sound as early as 2012. Tesla has an AVAS, but still had to recall more than half a million cars in February 2022 in order to fix a problem that interfered with proper functioning of its warning sound.

EV Driver Responsibility for Bicycle and Pedestrian Injuries

Ultimately it is the EV driver who has a responsibility to drive safely for given conditions. Knowing that they have a quiet car, drivers must take extra care to ensure others know they are on the road, and when driving near bicyclists and pedestrians.

Researchers in Spain found that high-risk situations for an EV-pedestrian accident included low-speed driving in urban areas, turning at intersections, as well as parking lots where vehicles are pulling in and out. Pedestrians and bicyclists hit by EVs and HEVs often said they didn’t notice the car because they didn’t hear it or couldn’t hear it over the other street sounds.

Drivers must be aware of those around them, especially those who aren’t in a vehicle, to avoid:

Auto Insurance Covers Bicyclist and Pedestrian Injuries

If you were hit by an EV while walking or biking, you may be able to recover money from the driver’s insurance company. If they had no insurance, you may be covered by your own uninsured-underinsured motorist policy.

Contact an attorney at Brian Cunha & Associates, with office in Fall River (MA), New Bedford (MA), and East Providence (RI). It’s our job to protect your legal rights and to ensure you receive the money you are due after a bike-car or pedestrian-car accident. Before you sign anything with an insurance company that waives your legal rights, talk to a lawyer.