Electric cars that are too quiet double the risk of being hit

The figures say that the number of Italians who bet on is increasing electric or hybrid cars, in an automotive market that is still struggling to take off. In 2023, in the face of a general increase in sales, there was a trend that led hybrid cars to exceed 40%, with exclusively electric ones still they struggle to establish themselves.

This is stated by the data from the study conducted by Aniasa and Bain & Company on the mobility of Italians. Not only. For the future, according to what the EY Mobility Consumer Index 2023 survey reports, there will be many people who will focus on these engines in terms of propensity to purchase. And then? So, when designing tomorrow, perhaps we also need to keep in mind an aspect that is sometimes underestimated.

If you use an electric or hybrid car, you will need to pay even more attention to pedestrians, especially in the city. Because according to research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health on accident victims detected in the United Kingdom between 2013 and 2017, those who move on foot could have an almost double chance of being hit from an electric or hybrid car compared to those powered by petrol or diesel.

Be careful especially in the city

For those accustomed to the roar of the engine, the almost imperceptible passage, often similar to a hum, of a motor vehicle with an electric or hybrid engine is certainly more relaxing for the hearing. But the danger may be around the corner, as the researchers point out in a press note made available by the British Medical Journal.
In particular, you have to be very careful in the city: the study in fact began at the time of the progressive transition from internal combustion engines to electric and hybrid ones, which are obviously less noisy. With potential consequences in terms of road safety for those who go on foot, especially if there are city areas where the background noise is particularly high.
The investigation examined precisely this aspect, comparing the differences in pedestrian fatality rates for every 100 million miles of road travel in Great Britain between electric/hybrid and fossil fuel cars, using road safety data, via the STATS19 database. The scientists estimated annual mileage from data from the National Travel Survey (NTS), which only began including hybrid as a vehicle fuel type in 2013. The assessment was extended through 2017. In total, in the analysis This included 32 billion miles of trips by electric/hybrid vehicles and 3 billion miles of trips by gasoline or diesel vehicles. Between 2013 and 2017, 916,713 road accident victims were reported in Great Britain. Of these, 120,197 were pedestrians, of which 96,285 were hit by a car or taxi.

What the numbers say

Reading the statistics, we see that 74% of the pedestrians considered in the study were hit by petrol or diesel powered vehicles, while 2% were hit by an electric or hybrid vehicle. It should be underlined that in just under one in four cases the vehicle code was not available. Most of the accidents occurred in urban areas. And precisely on this aspect, reasoning in percentages and not in absolute figures, more electric or hybrid vehicles were involved than petrol/diesel ones: 94% versus 88%. This compares with 6% and 12% respectively in rural areas. Based on this data, the researchers calculated that the average annual rate of pedestrian fatalities per 100 million miles of road travel was 5.16 for electric and hybrid vehicles and 2.40 for petrol and diesel vehicles. In practice, collisions with pedestrians were average twice as likely with electric and hybrid vehicles compared to petrol and diesel vehicles, and three times more likely in urban areas than in rural ones.

Risk mitigation necessary

Research, it must be said, cannot reach certain conclusions. In fact, there is no information after 2017 and above all in 24% of cases there is no correct coding of the vehicle engine. But it definitely indicates a trend to pay attention to, also in terms of public health. With a peculiarity. Younger and less experienced drivers may not only be more likely to be involved in a road accident, but in some cases they may be more likely to drive an electric vehicle, potentially influencing the associated risks.
According to the research, a plausible explanation for the results is that background environmental noise levels differ between urban and rural areas, making electric vehicles less audible to pedestrians in urban areas. The published research concludes with an appeal: attention must be paid to this aspect of risk, also in terms of its possible mitigation.