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Hybrids Safer In Crashes — Except For Pedestrians 392

Posted by timothy
from the downloadable-cartones-soon-enough dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Hybrid vehicles are safer than their conventional counterparts when it comes to shielding their occupants from injuries in crashes with the odds of being injured in a crash 25 percent lower for people in hybrids than people traveling in comparable non-hybrid vehicles. "Weight is a big factor," says Matt Moore, of the Highway Loss Data Institute. 'Hybrids on average are 10 percent heavier than their standard counterparts. This extra mass gives them an advantage in crashes that their conventional twins don't have.' The study's findings are good news for green-minded drivers who are also looking for safety in their cars, but it's worth noting that hybrid vehicles are much quieter than gas-powered cars, posing a risk to pedestrians. "When hybrids operate in electric-only mode, pedestrians can't hear them approaching," says Moore. Earlier this year, Congress gave the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration three years to come up with a requirement for equipping hybrids and electric models with sounds to alert unsuspecting pedestrians."
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Hybrids Safer In Crashes — Except For Pedestrians

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  • by rossdee (243626) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @08:32AM (#38115800)

    So if your a hybrid pedestrian you are more likely to be injured?

  • mahna-mahna (Score:5, Funny)

    by bazorg (911295) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @08:32AM (#38115804) Homepage

    If electric cars get customisable running sounds, I'll want the mahna-mahna song.

    • Companies already pay to wrap cars in visual advertisements, this could open up auto-auditory advertisements. You'd get paid a couple hundred bucks a month to drive around blasting an add for Cialis.

      • Re:mahna-mahna (Score:5, Insightful)

        by realityimpaired (1668397) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @08:58AM (#38115934)

        What makes you think they'd pay you for the privilege? They'll just follow the current trend in the fashion industry, and treat you like a billboard, and charge you extra for the privilege of advertising for them....

      • by NevarMore (248971)

        Because when I think "manly", "make my penis bigger", and "attract women" I think of a little rinky dink eco-friendly compact car....

        • Actually... make my penis bigger kinda fits the person driving the sky blue electric powered yaris.

        • Re:mahna-mahna (Score:5, Insightful)

          by robot256 (1635039) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @03:35PM (#38118652)

          Because when I think "manly", "make my penis bigger", and "attract women" I think of a little rinky dink eco-friendly compact car....

          It just depends on what kind of women you want to attract. If you want to attract shallow, vain women who flock after rich men with fancy cars, then no, you don't want a hybrid. If, on the other hand, you want to attract shallow, vain women who flock after trendy urbanites up on the latest fads, then yes, you do want a hybrid. If you want to attract women who aren't shallow or vain, try finding ones that don't care what kind of car you drive.

    • Re:mahna-mahna (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bengie (1121981) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:50AM (#38116210)

      Badger badger badger ...

      "pedestrians can't hear them approaching"

      Blind and deaf, that's impressive. Should one be walking around with that kind of disability combo?

      • Re:mahna-mahna (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Sunday November 20, 2011 @02:40PM (#38118180) Homepage

        You don't seem to know a lot about reducing the risk of injury to a normal human being. Unfortunately our senses are not perfect, sometimes we miss things or are distracted and forget to look. Audio cues help prevent mistakes turning into accidents and have been shown to be very effective. Emergency vehicle sirens, for example, have been improved so that they give drivers some idea of the direction the vehicle is approaching from.

        The problem with EVs isn't as bad as some people make out though since much of the noise is from the tyres on the road and air being forced aside; the engine contributes relatively little. We have an opportunity here to develop sounds that make people take notice rather than the default noise a petrol engine makes, and the person inside the car need not hear it.

        • Re:mahna-mahna (Score:5, Informative)

          by PCM2 (4486) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @04:34PM (#38119118) Homepage

          The problem with EVs isn't as bad as some people make out though since much of the noise is from the tyres on the road and air being forced aside; the engine contributes relatively little.

          In traffic, maybe. But I don't think this is necessarily about people crossing at the light at a crosswalk at a busy intersection.

          I live in a city, where there's a lot of ambient noise. That city is San Francisco, where, as you can imagine, there are a lot of hybrid cars. And I can tell you, while not being elevated in my mind quite to the level of "cause for concern" just yet, quiet cars can be a problem.

          I live on a predominantly residential street, where people have their cars in garages with very short driveways that cross the public sidewalk. The sound a combustion engine makes when it's backing out of a garage at low speed is very much more noticeable than the more-or-less complete silence of a hybrid engine. If, as you're walking along, you were fussing with your shopping bags, or tugging on your dog's leash, or looking over your shoulder to see if the bus is coming, it would be very easy to get run over by a hybrid car without ever realizing it was coming.

          Hybrid cars also round streetcorners in front of you when you're preparing to cross the street. Some of the cross-streets on the street I live on are one-way, single-lane streets, on hills, with a building right on the corner. It's very easy to be surprised by a car making a lefthand turn as you're walking up the road -- even more so if the car doesn't make any noise.

          The problem isn't a crisis, but it really is about more than just accommodating "stupid people," or handicapped people who can't hear at normal levels. Regular people can very easily miss a hybrid car coming.

          Also, I think some of the people who scoff at this idea live in parts of America where you're essentially wedded to your car. There are many cities, however -- San Francisco, Boston, Portland, New York, Seattle -- where a lot of people, or even a majority, don't rely on a car for most of their travel. That means they spend at least part of their day on foot or on a bike on public streets. In New York and San Francisco, lots of people don't even own cars. So maybe you're not likely to get run down by a hybrid car every day, but if you're on the street every day, all year long... it could happen.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            Also, I think some of the people who scoff at this idea live in parts of America where you're essentially wedded to your car. There are many cities, however -- San Francisco, Boston, Portland, New York, Seattle -- where a lot of people, or even a majority, don't rely on a car for most of their travel. That means they spend at least part of their day on foot or on a bike on public streets. In New York and San Francisco, lots of people don't even own cars. So maybe you're not likely to get run down by a hybrid car every day, but if you're on the street every day, all year long... it could happen.

            Thanks for pointing that out. Having spent some time in and around Tokyo know for certain that a car is not necessary. You can get almost everywhere by train, and perhaps a short bus ride or walk. People on /. seem to think public transport is a bad thing but actually a well run system gets you from A to B quick and easier than a car does.

  • by Snard (61584) <<mike.shawaluk> <at> <gmail.com>> on Sunday November 20, 2011 @08:36AM (#38115818) Homepage

    ... The fact that hybrids are being labeled "dangerous to pedestrians" because they don't make noise to warn people to jump out of the way when they are jaywalking or texting/surfing on their phone while they are crossing the street.

    I'm surprised that someone hasn't required noisemakers on bicycles for the same reason.

    • by JustOK (667959)

      they did that along time ago.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hentes (2461350)

      They did, all bycicles in my country are required to have a bell.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:14AM (#38116022)
        Interesting. All the cars in my country are required to have a working horn. Does it make a difference just because the horn or bell is there? Or, maybe they have to - you know - actually ring it or press the horn? Saying bikes have bells is really like saying cars have horns. Apparently that isn't enough to fix this problem. Instead, they want the car to emit internal combustion engine sounds. Perhaps we can even get it to emit a realistic smell?

        I remember reading Robert Heinlein's "The Cat Who Walks Through Walls". In one chapter they have a guy with an electric car rigged up to emit annoying sounds like it had an IC engine. Looks like reality may be going there too.
        • by Joce640k (829181)

          Is there any reason the noise has to be audible?

          Cars could emit an ultrasonic sound and anybody who's interested could have a little box with a 'radar' map of all the cars around them (even behind them, if they're on a bike). Smart phones could do it. Blind people could have ones with haptic feedback, etc., etc.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          they want the car to emit internal combustion engine sounds

          If you had bothered to check you would know that the sounds being considered are mostly not petrol engine noises. Nissan's EVs emit a "swooshing" sound, one that minimises noise pollution but still gives you plenty of warning that the car is approaching. The driver doesn't hear it, and in fact they had to add deflectors to cut down on noise from the wing mirrors pushing air aside. It only projects in front of the car.

      • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:14AM (#38116024) Homepage
        It must be very annoying to drive your bicycle with the bell constantly ringing
    • by tenco (773732) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @08:42AM (#38115850)
      cars are a lot more lethal in a crash than bicycles.
    • by mikael_j (106439) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @08:47AM (#38115882)

      Every time I hear or read about people demanding that electric cars somehow make unnecessary noises I get a little annoyed. One of the great things about electric cars (beyond not running on fossil fuel) is that they don't contribute to noise pollution.

      This wouldn't be a problem if people just paid a little attention before crossing the street, I've never been hit by a car even though I frequently listen to music while walking or riding my bicycle (not counting the time I was drunk and not paying attention, but that was all my own fault and luckily I wasn't injured beyond a few bruises).

      I just don't get what is so hard about not randomly walking out into the middle of the street without first checking that there aren't any vehicles headed your way

      • by smellotron (1039250) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:27AM (#38116076)

        This wouldn't be a problem if people just paid a little attention before crossing the street

        You are making the assumption that pedestrian collisions are caused by the inattention of pedestrians. Assholes in hybrids will continue to roll through right-turns-on-red, ignore (or race) pedestrians already crossing, dart around between lanes for a single-car "advantage", zip through small neighborhood streets at 50mph, etc. In all of those situations, there is a defensive advantage because of sound. If that advantage goes away, the assholes just get more dangerous.

        Hmm.. Come to think of it, the police can solve most this by enforcing existing traffic laws. Once they start doing that, then I'll be in favor of reducing the noise pollution that cars make. In the meantime, they appear to split their time between catching speeders and only the grossest of safety violators, and I'll take the noise pollution over death.

        • There is no evidence that hybrids are involved in more pedestrian incidents or incidents involving blind pedestrians. Because they are unusual the press reports pedestrian/hybrid incidents and they sensationalize it saying things like 'silent death' etc. There is no study conclusively saying that hybrids and electrics would be safer with more noise. It is a shame that money is being put into making the world noiser instead of into things that could save lives.
          • by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:49AM (#38116996)

            From the linked study's abstract:

            This study found that pedestrian and bicyclist crashes involving both HEVs and ICE vehicles commonly occurred on roadways, in zones with low
            speed limits, during daytime and in clear weather, with higher incidence rates for HEVs when compared to ICE vehicles. A variety of crash factors
            were examined to determine the relative incidence rates of HEVs versus ICE vehicles in a range of crash scenarios. For one group of scenarios,
            those in which a vehicle is slowing or stopping, backing up, or entering or leaving a parking space, a statistically significant effect was found due to
            engine type. The HEV was two times more likely to be involved in a pedestrian crash in these situations than was an ICE vehicle. Vehicle
            maneuvers such as slowing or stopping, backing up, or entering or leaving a parking space, were grouped in one category based on that these
            maneuvers are potentially have occurred at very low speeds where the difference between the sound levels produced by the hybrid versus ICE
            vehicle is the greatest. In future analysis with a larger sample size, it would be ideal to investigate each of these maneuvers individually.
            Incidence rate of pedestrian crashes in scenarios when vehicles make a turn was significantly higher for HEVs when compared to ICE vehicles.
            There was no statistically significant difference in incidence rate of pedestrian crashes involving HEVs when compared to ICE vehicles when both
            type of vehicles were going straight.

            My interpretation is that when the cars are going straight ahead there is enough noise (tire, wind?) such that pedestrians don't get whacked - but when a car is creeping along, like a turn or parking maneuver, pedestrians can't always hear them. I don't think a car making some noise when at low speed would be a terrible contribution to noise pollution. It doesn't have to be the "BEEP BEEP BEEP" that trucks make when backing up.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Joce640k (829181)

        Yep. We need pedestrians to adapt to the cars, not the other way around.

        It's a ROAD. Try opening your fucking eyes...

        • by ilo.v (1445373) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:00AM (#38116666)

          Yep. We need pedestrians to adapt to the cars, not the other way around. It's a ROAD. Try opening your fucking eyes...

          I completely agree. In return, your car should stay off the pedestrian paths. Good luck getting anywhere more a few hundred feet in my city without being blocked by a crosswalk. Even with lights and pedestrian signals, you are still going to cross my pedestrian cross walk when I have the green walk light (your right and left turns) You need to go back to preschool and learn how to share.

          • by ilo.v (1445373)

            Even with lights and pedestrian signals, you are still going to cross my pedestrian cross walk when I have the green walk light (your right and left turns)

            See also: parking lots.

        • by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:52AM (#38117032)

          You have it completely wrong. The linked study showed that pedestrians are not injured when cars are going straight ahead. The injuries occurred when cars are parking, turning, and making other low-speed passes through pedestrian areas. In all likelihood, it is just as much the driver not paying attention as it is the pedestrian.

      • by hedwards (940851) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:55AM (#38116242)

        I take it you aren't blind and don't know anybody that's blind. The reason for this mandate is because pedestrians need all the help they can get to locate potential hazards. Seeing and hearing a car is vastly superior to just hearing it or just seeing it.

        And yes, I do look both ways, but that doesn't mean that I have eyes on the back of my head, so if I'm nearly half way into the lane as I cross the street, I can't necessarily see the car behind me that thinks it's OK to take a sudden right turn.

        • by mikael_j (106439) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:57AM (#38116256)

          You can hear electric cars just fine if you actually pay attention to your surroundings (doubly so if we get rid of the majority of loud combustion engine-powered cars). I definitely hear when an electric car approaches if I'm not listening to music, at it sounds nothing like a bicycle btw (just in case someone feels the need to claim otherwise).

          Just because everyone is used to cars being loud as hell doesn't mean it's a good thing.

          • by hedwards (940851)

            Bullshit, you probably can hear them on a side street, but you're not going to hear them coming if you're crossing a busy street. Or at least not with any kind of reliability.

        • by TheLink (130905)
          Modern ICE cars are also pretty quiet.

          Between the low and very high speeds the tyre noise makes up much of the car noise. The hybrids often have low resistance tyres so maybe they make less tyre noise.

          I'd like to see real proof that it is a problem before we have laws requiring that hybrid and electric cars be noisy.

          In fact, if cars were quieter you'd be able to hear the faster vehicles and other stuff more easily.
      • by ironjaw33 (1645357) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @10:24AM (#38116424)

        I remember at least two incidents where I've nearly been hit by a hybrid while I was crossing an intersection (two different intersections in completely different towns). In both cases, the property owners adjacent to the intersecting road had erected a hedge or fence right up against the road. This is illegal because you can't see, but plenty of property owners do it just the same. Because I couldn't see unless I stepped into the road, I listened for oncoming cars first. Hearing nothing, I proceeded to walk into the intersection where I was nearly mauled. Since I was paying attention, I was able to jump out of the way just in time.

        It's more than not paying attention, it's that everyone has to realize that hearing can't be relied upon to tell whether or not a vehicle is approaching. I've learned my lesson and remember that when I'm crossing a street that I might not be able to hear what's coming.

    • by lochnessie (1291986) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @08:53AM (#38115910)
      The motivation behind this is not to protect oblivious smartphone users, but for people with visual impairments who have traditionally relied on engine noise to identify approaching vehicles at low speed. The smartphone users will still be in danger, because they're invariably wearing headphones too.
      • by BlueStrat (756137) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:34AM (#38116098)

        The motivation behind this is not to protect oblivious smartphone users, but for people with visual impairments who have traditionally relied on engine noise to identify approaching vehicles at low speed. The smartphone users will still be in danger, because they're invariably wearing headphones too.

        Then by the same logic, why haven't all road-legal vehicles been required to have rotating warning lights, strobes, or a similar visual warning system?

        Why does the government hate deaf people? Is it because they can't hear the political speeches and must read them, therefor fixing more firmly in their minds the memory of the promises a politician makes and then breaks?

        I probably shouldn't go giving the politicians any ideas, or parents will need $1,500 worth of required and certified safety strobes, flashers, and running lights for their kid's Big Wheel. The only licensed/certified maker, of course, would be owned by a recent departee from whatever administration is in power.

        Strat

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Because this isn't about deaf people, this is about blind people. Being blind is a much more dangerous proposition when it comes to crossing a street than being deaf is. There are a lot more options for safely crossing a street as a deaf person than as a blind person.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        The motivation behind this is not to protect oblivious smartphone users, but for people with visual impairments who have traditionally relied on engine noise to identify approaching vehicles at low speed.

        Ok, here's a geeky solution for you:

        Require the cars to emit an ultrasonic sound that people can't hear. Blind people can carry a little box which beeps/vibrates/whatever when it detects that noise. Go to town, put in some haptic feedback so they can tell directions and speeds as well (heck, this might even be safer than listening for normal engines...)

        PS: You could even put it into the smartphones to protect their oblivious users. And the cars - so they can tell where other cars are and apply brakes if the

      • by TheLink (130905)

        Maybe the blind should learn to "see" better?
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYWpxmcHTOc [youtube.com]
        http://video.worldaccessfortheblind.org/superhumans.html [worldacces...eblind.org]

    • I tend to agree with this, but would wonder if you had actually seen / been around any silent all-electric vehicles. Its easier to scoff and laugh about stupid pedestrians before you experience what they mean by "silent". I was just over in Shanghai where they have more electric scooters / electric bikes than cars, and comparing them to normal bicycles is a bad comparison. Normal bikes you can generally hear coming, the electrics just make a bit of a whoosh as they go by. They tend to get quite a bit mo

    • I don't live in a loud urban environment. I walk the neighborhood streets with my young children all the time, we have about 3 Priuses in the neighborhood - there's no problem hearing them approach, around a corner, long before you can see them. Tire noise is usually enough, and when they get on the power, you can hear the switching transistors whine.

      Electric cars sound nothing at all like a squirrel (the second most common sound heard on walks in the neighborhood...)

    • by 1u3hr (530656)

      I'm surprised that someone hasn't required noisemakers on bicycles for the same reason

      Probably because bicycles are much less likely to kill pedestrians, even if they hit them. Something that cyclists really try to avoid, since they will suffer at least as much in any collision, unlike car drivers who can turn a dozen pedestrians or cyclists into roadkill and just suffer a dented fender.

    • It's a dumb problem (ok, pun intended), and a dumb answer to it. If pedestrians didn't have to cross streets, this wouldn't be a problem. Why not design neighborhoods so pedestrians don't have to cross so many streets, instead of solving it by making the noise pollution problem worse?

      I'd like to see cities use the 3rd dimension more. Have all buildings be at least 3 stories, and close enough to be connected with walkways. Pedestrians could navigate the entire city above street level. Could also have

    • by jfengel (409917) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @12:18PM (#38117212) Homepage Journal

      A bicycle moves 15 MPH, not 60 MPH.

      A bicycle + rider weighs 200 pounds, not 2,000 pounds.

      A bicycle rider will be seriously injured by a collision with a pedestrian. A driver won't, and isn't looking as closely for them, especially when they're not expecting them.

  • weight and safety (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alphatel (1450715) * on Sunday November 20, 2011 @08:37AM (#38115826)
    IIHS also found SUVs to be safer due to weight advantage [insideline.com]. This study only looks at crashes and neglects the fact that lighter vehicles tend to stop faster and have better turn radius, which helps to prevent them from getting into accidents in the first place.
    • by abigsmurf (919188)
      Not to mention that the higher centre of gravity in SUVs makes them very prone to flipping and the fact that if you hit a smaller car in them, the smaller car will generally have a very bad time (to compound things, the car doing the hitting is most often the car that is to blame for the accident)
    • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:01AM (#38115948)
      I confronted an SUV driver online about this once. He explained that he was well aware that in an accident, the SUV was the most dangerous car for occupents of the other vehicle, and that in choosing to drive one for safety he was willingly endangering others for his own protection. He went on to brand me a socialist and claim that it was his duty to protect his own family, even if that meant endangering others to whome he owed no loyalty.

      I hope that if he does have a car accident, the *other* driver thought exactly the same way.
      • by drolli (522659) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:07AM (#38115980) Journal

        In that logic, to protect myself, is it ok to blow SUVs off the road using anti-vehicle weapons?

        • by Deus.1.01 (946808)

          TOW's should be an mandatory accessory for compacts to even up the odds.

        • by chill (34294)

          No, not unless you're playing a round of Car Wars [wikipedia.org]. Or, maybe a really big fan of Alan Dean Foster's short stories. re: Bryer v Matthews.

          The SUV is a passive, defensive solution. Yours is an active, offensive solution.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:25AM (#38116068)

        That confrontation is an awesome account of pretty much everything that's wrong with the US right now--the "I've got mine, so screw you!" attitude. Of course, it must be peppered in with incorrect usages of the word "socialism" because it just helps the concerted campaign to demonize the term while simultaneously never using it correctly. I'm sure the person you were debating with had his on-board entertainment system permanently fixed to Fox News too.

        • by Brucelet (1857158)
          Actually, when it comes to talk radio in the US, it doesn't need to be associated with Fox to be overly right-leaning. It just needs to not be NPR.
      • by Alomex (148003) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:50AM (#38116212) Homepage

        it was his duty to protect his own family,

        then why is he driving a car whose chances of rolling over are orders of magnitude higher than a regular sedan?

        • by frdmfghtr (603968) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @10:27AM (#38116440)

          it was his duty to protect his own family,

          then why is he driving a car whose chances of rolling over are orders of magnitude higher than a regular sedan?

          To play Devil's Advocate, there is a rational reason for doing so.

          There is an elevated risk of rollover with an SUV, which I can mitigate as a driver by changing my driving style, and driving more defensively. A SUV helps me drive defensively by increasing visibility around me. Those are factors that I, as a driver, can control. However, I can't control what other drivers will do or the type of vehicle that will hit mine in an accident. Therefore, to mitigate that risk, I'll drive a larger vehicle that will provide more protection in an accident. Two problems are solved here.

          To go the opposite, way, driving a smaller car to manage the rollover risk decreases my ability to drive defensively (lower visibility) and decreases my chances of survival in a collision. One problem is solved, and another made potentially worse.

          • by Alomex (148003) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @10:45AM (#38116550) Homepage

            To play Devil's Advocate, there is a rational reason for doing so.

            I think you give the "bigger-is-safer" brainwashed drivers out there too much credit. I drive a sedan and a SUV and I can tell that the visibility thing is mostly a myth: you can't see past a minivan on either. This might have been true at some point,when big cars were few and far between but in this day and age SUVs give very little actual increased visibility. What people think is increased visibility really only means being able to stare down the normal size sedan right next to you.

            As well, there are common traffic situations where visibility doesn't really help yet size hurts. Say a car suddenly cuts into your lane. You either swerve and rollover, or step on the breaks, and guess what, because of your increased mass you cannot stop in time and run into the car in front of you. This is yet another way in which driving a larger car increases the chances of injury.

            The safest car is neither the biggest nor the smallest. It's one in which the engineers right-sized the brakes to the mass of the car, given it a responsive car suspension (hint: most large SUV were built on pickup-truck platforms), has good factory installed tires (ford explorer any one?), put a proper cage around the passenger compartment and don't burst into flames upon impact.

            Where is size in all of that?

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by wagnerrp (1305589)

              As well, there are common traffic situations where visibility doesn't really help yet size hurts. Say a car suddenly cuts into your lane. You either swerve and rollover, or step on the breaks, and guess what, because of your increased mass you cannot stop in time and run into the car in front of you. This is yet another way in which driving a larger car increases the chances of injury.

              You missed one. You step on the gas to clip their rear quarter as they come over, destabilizing them, and putting them into the wall. After all, just because you're driving slow in the left lane doesn't give someone the right to pass you.

    • by Bengie (1121981)

      I read that even though SUVs are on average safer to be in for a crash, they are on average less safe to be in for accidents in general.

      where crashes are a subset of accidents.

      • I read that even though SUVs are on average safer to be in for a crash, they are on average less safe to be in for accidents in general.

        Amen.

        Many of the crash tests I've seen involving frontal and offset crashes of SUVs show intrusion into the passenger cabin. Doors, floorboards, etc.

        When minvans first came out, they were given the same category as trucks, and got exempt from the car fuel standards. They also got different safety standards, too. So: they were initially missing door bars, etc. I don't thi

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @08:38AM (#38115834)

    Heavy cars are safer for the ones sitting in them. But most crashes involve two vehicles, and the lighter one will get the majority of the damage. A 'weight arms race' is not safety.

    • by dfghjk (711126)

      It's safety for the selfish.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Hence in the Libertarian world, everybody drives larger and larger tanks, and shoots first, just in case.

    • by bzipitidoo (647217) <bzipitidoo@yahoo.com> on Sunday November 20, 2011 @11:27AM (#38116836) Journal

      Depends on how you define winning.

      A few years ago, I was in an accident in which another driver ran a red light, right in front of me. This was not someone trying to beat the light, this was a young, inexperienced driver's total failure to see the signal. I t-boned him. It was lucky for them that I drive a small, light car, and was going a bit under the posted speed limit of 55 mph. I was bruised badly enough that it took 3 months to fully heal. But I didn't need medical treatment. My elderly and frailer passengers didn't fare as well, with one broken ankle and some cuts that needed stitches.

      If my preference for small, light, fuel efficient cars saved lives that day, I count that a big win.

  • A lot of pedestrians are walking around listening to their music at full-blast and have no chance of hearing the car coming anyways. The fault does not belong to the car in that situation.
    • Whenever I run over a pedestrian, I quickly run out of the car and throw an iPod on the body.

    • A lot of pedestrians are walking around listening to their music at full-blast and have no chance of hearing the car coming anyways. The fault does not belong to the car in that situation.

      True, except for the 'lot of pedestrians' (at least around here) and for all the situations in which the pedestrians aren't wearing headphones.
       
      Seriously, can we stop with the highly moderated "blame the victim" posts?

    • by number17 (952777)
      I really don't get this one. This is not limited to pedestrians. What do the pedestrians need to hear that a radio blasting car driver with windows up doesn't? The real issue is people with blinders on not paying attention to whats going on around them.
  • Why bother with adding noises. Increasingly were I am people don't care and just walk out into the road expecting a car driver to stop in zero feet, or people more interested in their phone conversations they just step into the road, or they are otherwise playing with their phones / MP3 players and not looking at the traffic. This is WITH petrol and diesel cars making lots of noise.

    Having said that, adding a noise to electric cars helps the blind that walk around, there is no benefit to noise for non-disabl

  • by Assmasher (456699) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:05AM (#38115974) Journal

    ...for example - unless my father is really stepping on it, his Subaru is silent of engine noise from more than 10 feet away. You can hear his tires and the airflow over the body when he's farther away - but not the engine. Hell, I have a friend whose Lexus I can't tell is running or not unless I put my hand on the hood.

    This whole "silent cars are killers" thing seems a little ridiculous. If this was a chronic issue, we'd already be suffering an ever growing deluge of pedestrian casualties in the ERs of the world since there are so many quiet combustion powered cars.

    • by sribe (304414)

      This whole "silent cars are killers" thing seems a little ridiculous. If this was a chronic issue, we'd already be suffering an ever growing deluge of pedestrian casualties in the ERs of the world since there are so many quiet combustion powered cars.

      I used to cycle a lot (100-200 miles a week, minimum), and I first noticed this problem in the early 90s! I think it was the Toyota Camry that was first quiet enough that at residential street speeds I could not hear it coming...

      • by Assmasher (456699)

        Yeah, I seem to especially remember the Camry being a car you couldn't tell if it was running or not when you were standing next to the damn thing.

        • by sribe (304414)

          Yeah, I seem to especially remember the Camry being a car you couldn't tell if it was running or not when you were standing next to the damn thing.

          Reminds me... By the mid 80s, you couldn't tell if a new Jaguar was running or not even with the hood open. Of course quiet Jaguars were not quite as common a problem for cyclists as Camrys ;-)

  • I hope all cars sound like they used to on The Jetsons.

  • Misleading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slasho81 (455509) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:11AM (#38116006)
    If hybrid cars are safer because they're heavier, it's misleading saying that hybrid is safer. It should be said that heavier is safer.
  • Easy fix (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nidi62 (1525137) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:12AM (#38116010)
    Just put a baseball card in the wheel. Problem solved. Plus, it makes it sound like a motorcycle!
  • Welcome to Roy Battys world. If the spinners don't get you, time will.
  • by garry_g (106621) on Sunday November 20, 2011 @09:37AM (#38116118)

    First of all, weight does not equal safety. There's enough examples out there that show that the structure of the car is the main deciding factor as to how safe a car is for the passengers.
    As for less injured, sure, if you have a hybrid that accelerates less quickly (due to weight and energy-saving driving habits), odds are it's slower in a crash, thus endangering the passengers less. In contrast, I would dare to bet that - everything else identical - the same car with the additional weight will have a longer breaking distance (causing higher risk for getting in an accident), and when crashing at the same speed, it will equal higher damage in both cars involved ... it's hard to beat physics ...

  • I have lived in the city have been crossing streets alone since I was a child and the only time I got hit by a car was when I was young and did not look both ways because I was crossing at a lighted crosswalk. I had the right of way, a car run the red light. I learned my lesson. Most instances I see is because on of the agents is not paying attention. For instance I say a bicyclist get run over when he entered an intersection as a truck was turning right. The bike did not notice the truck turning right
    • by swalve (1980968)
      That's why you aren't supposed to pass on the right. The bicyclist was in the wrong. Chicago has these bike lanes between the parked cars and the moving cars, and they terrify me as a driver. You just don't have good enough sightlines out of a car on the right to be able to see a tiny bike zipping in and out of traffic.
  • When driving a car, I rarely need to hear other cars. The only exceptions I can think of are when driving around blind corners in the parking garage and emergency vehicles.

    When walking around, why would I need to hear any more than what a car driver hears? Is the responsibility not in the hands of those who have been granted a license to drive large vehicles around our earth?

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