Unwelcome news - HEVs do hit more pedestrians & cyclists

Discussion in 'Prius, Hybrid, EV and Alt-Fuel News' started by samiam, Sep 29, 2009.

  1. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    From a pedestrian perspective I'm not concerned about quiet vehicles. Relying on noise will get you killed--particularly for those wearing headsets while they run/walk.

    I've been hit by a car while running (red Toyota Corolla as memory serves.) The driver decided not to stop for his stop sign and the sidewalk (I was crossing a parking lot.) Realizing that I was about to be struck I jumped in the air and bounded across his hood with a single arm pivot, dented his hood, but landed on my feet on the other side. This worked because at the last second he saw me and braked hard. Otherwise I would have ended up rolling across his windshield, which is better than ending up with feet planted on the ground in front of his grill. Nobody was more suprised than me that I was still on my feet and on the other side of the vehicle. (No, I'm not making this up, it happened while I was working in Asia.) I gave him and his passenger a vigorous bras d'honneur and continued my run with one helluva adrenaline rush.

    The Prius does surprise those accustomed to noisy ICE's though. A few weeks after we bought the Prius a not particularly bright woman was waddling down the center of the main parking lot lane at Bass Pro. Waiting for her to actually cross rather than following the lane I remarked to my wife, "I wish she would get her fat nice person out of the way." At that point the woman startled, turned, gave me a dirty look and moved aside.

    My wife responded..."You do realize that this car is so quiet that she can hear you, don't you?"

    :redface: "Uh, I do now."
     
  2. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    I was thinking of the case of a Prius without fog lights and someone wanting to test an external, audio, turn signal. But at $60/light retail not counting the wiring, it gets expensive quickly. I have been thinking about the turn and it occurs to me that a right turn may be a special case.

    Looking for on-coming traffic, the driver switches their attention to entering their lane. At the same time, an inattentive pedestrian may also be concentrating on on-coming traffic and not notice the flashing turn signal of the car at the corner. But 'filtering out the noise' is not uncommon for humans.

    As an experiment, it might be neat to setup a recording video camera and run a set of Prius through an urban area with a lot of pedestrians and record pedestrian-Prius interactions with both silent and external noise emitting turn signals. Prius taxi cabs would be the perfect test vehicle since they do a lot of urban miles.

    It is the backup light that has me intrigued. Saturday I had the reverse, cabin beep turn to a single beep. I'm not adverse to an external beep when backing up but it isn't clear that the 2010 uses a regular backup light. But I may try one in my NHW11.

    Bob Wilson
     
  3. snijd

    snijd DIY or die

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    I've wondered how pernicious the Prius might be in encounters with pedestrians. Today I had a really close encounter with a young man who suddenly decided to jaywalk across a four-lane road, on which I was traveling downhill near the curb. After taking one long stride into the roadway, he suddenly decided it might be wise to glance up the hill, noticing that my vehicle was about to change his feeling of well being. He jumped back onto the sidewalk, and my heart began beating again. I don't think I could have avoided a collision, and I wasn't exceeding the speed limit of 25 mph. The car is truly quiet with nothing running, and sometimes that can be a problem. Any vehicle could have been traveling down that hill very quietly, but is the Prius just a teeny bit more silent? I wonder.
     
  4. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    I think people need to be educated on how to share the roads with vehicles. Don't they teach it in kindergarten?? Look Left, Look Right, Look Left again then cross.
     
  5. snijd

    snijd DIY or die

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    But who will do that? On the Burke Gilman Trail, pedestrians/joggers will sometimes turn 180 degrees right into cyclists. Why don't they look first? do not know, but they don't hear us, either. And the bell doesn't always help.
     
  6. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    A note sent to the NHTSA via their web site:

    * * * begin note * * *



    Overall the technical report "Incident of Pedestrian and Bicyclist Crashes by Hybrid Electric Passenger Vehicles" (DOT HS 811 204) is OK but we noticed it is being misinterpreted as a head-to-head comparison of hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) accident rates versus internal combustion (ICE) vehicle accident rates as if the vehicle or vehicle-mile numbers are in the report. Close reading reveals that this is at best a comparison of relative accident 'profiles' without reference to the absolute risks of hybrids versus ICE accidents. For example, the surface of a baseball has external stitches that are different from the shape of a soccer ball that has recessed seams. This report is discussing the relative shape of the ball surfaces without addressing the absolute sizes ... as far as real risks to pedestrians.

    This became clear in Table 6a that was initially very confusing when:

    "Making a turn : 19 HEV 1.8%
    Backing : 7 HEV 5.3%"

    The obvious disconnect between the number of accidents and the percentages was the first clue of a problem. It took several reads to figure out that table 3d, "the distribution of maneuvers for the HEV and ICE" was the denominator for the percentages used in table 6a. But less sophisticated readers might (and have) used these percentages to make false claims about what the report tells us. Table 6a is the relative profile or distribution of types of accidents within the HEV and ICE vehicles but because there is no vehicle counts or vehicle-mile counts, it does not tell us the absolute size or magnitude of the relative risk.

    Let us assume that HEV's have half of the rate of accidents as ICE vehicles (something we know is true from the FARS data and Prius sales since 2000-2007,) then the relative rates of "Turning" and "Backing" accidents between HEV and ICE vehicles would be the same. Given these are only 15% of all accidents, the remaining 85% of accidents would show the HEVs to be significantly safer.

    Once we realized that table 3d was critical to understanding the percentages of table 6a and that there was no vehicle or vehicle-mile counts in this report, we realized it was comparing the surface of a baseball to a soccer ball without noticing that one is much larger than the other.

    We think this is a valuable report but without HEV and ICE vehicle populations for the 12 states from 2000-2007, it is easily misunderstood. It means Congress, reporters and ordinary citizens can be misled and a false impression of HEV and ICE safety distributed.

    I believe the report could be edited to make sure this is clear. I do find the data in the report is valuable if somewhat incomplete (no HEV or ICE registrations for the 12 states.) Feel free to contact me if you would like some suggestions on how to perfect it. In a week or so, I'll send a follow-up via my representatives so you'll have a formal way to track the problem. I wanted to give you a chance to fix it before their notes arrive.

    Thanks,
    Bob Wilson
    625k Inc.
    9011 Randall Rd.
    Huntsville, AL 35802
    256-652-3618
    * * * end note * * *

    Well that should wake them up.

    Bob Wilson
     
  7. JATiii

    JATiii Druid

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    Odd. Maybe I missed it but it appears to me that this entire thread is focusing on when these accidents occur and if the data is correct and not why. I can only guess that by figuring out when the why will become obvious.

    It seems to me that the why is simple: They are quieter! If a pedestrian or cyclist does not hear a car approaching, as they normally do, they may accidently move into the car's path.

    That more accidents happen at slower speeds is consistent with this theory as cyclists or pedestrians are less likely to be maneuvering on a straightaway (when cars are moving faster) as opposed to near an intersection, in a parking lot, etc., when cars are moving slower.

    As a cyclist I can tell you, it is a bitc# hearing a Prius coming.
     
  8. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    This is called getting the horse before the cart. We like to diagnose a problem before proposing a cure ... an accurate diagnosis.

    I agree 'why' is important but there is no data that allows us to support any hypothesis. Worse, without the numbers we can very quickly 'solve' the wrong problem:

    • turning - is there difference between right-hand turns versus left-hand turns in the data? Any solution that solves the wrong problem, especially if legislated, is using placebo, a false cure. Diagnosis is the first step and that has to be data drive.

    Actually both when and how much leads to experiments that actually investigate why. This is the beating heart of the scientific method, the way that makes the computer you are reading this message on and sending your reply possible.
    Where is your data? How do you propose to design an experiment to test this hypothesis.

    Now if 90% of all turning accidents happen making a right-turn and only 10% happen with left turn ... does it make sense that only the right hand turn signal may need a noise maker. But what if the absolute rate of hybrids is half the absolute rate of ICE vehicles?

    We have strong, credible evidence that the Prius fatality rate per 100 million miles is half of what the NHTSA reports. What this means is the "Turning" and "Backing" rate is less than that for ICE cars. What this means is the other 85% of maneuvers are even safer.

    That is why we want the facts and data. We actually like to diagnose the problem and then apply a cure tailored to that problem ... not just "ear wash" that leaves the legislators stand on a growing pile of bodies while boasting they did something. One of those bodies from a worthless 'cure' could be your and your bicycle.

    Yes but it is also a bitc* dealing with ordinary traffic. But if you will send me $60, I'll be happy to install a sound-generating turn signal light. Send me $120 and I'll do both the right and left turn signals.

    Better still, have you tried these noise generator's with your Prius?

    It is easy to tell others to do something but something else when you are faced with the bill to 'put your money where your mouth is.'

    Bob Wilson
     
  9. ronhowell

    ronhowell Active Member

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    The Prius has a horn. Use it!!!
     
  10. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    The NHTSA report, DOT HS 811 204, did not report fatal accidents in their records but from the NHTSA database, the FARS :
    Column 1 Column 2 Column 3 Column 4 Column 5 Column 6
    0 time State Name COUNTY VE_TOTAL PERSONS PEDS
    1 9/12/2007 20:35 Florida 57 3 6 2
    2 10/17/2006 19:27 Florida 127 1 2 1
    3 1/26/2007 14:43 Florida 9 1 2 1
    4 12/19/2005 21:13 Georgia 15 1 2 1
    5 1/19/2002 13:15 Illinois 97 1 3 1
    .
    Now it may be they did not include 2007 but meant up to January 2007. Still it seems a curious omission since some of the data not found in the 12 state data might be found in these accident records.

    Bob Wilson
     
  11. hyo silver

    hyo silver Awaaaaay

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    But they're not any more difficult to see than other vehicles. A smart cyclist doesn't rely on hearing alone for survival.
     
  12. JATiii

    JATiii Druid

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    Yea, we basically have to turn our heads around to see behind us.

    You would be surprised how much we (people, including cyclists) use noise to infer properties about the objects near us, specifically how far, how fast and if accelerating or decelerating.

    I'm not blaming the Prius or other electric cars, but if you want to know why slow speed accidents are up, that is most likely the reason.
     
  13. hyo silver

    hyo silver Awaaaaay

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    If your bike doesn't have a mirror, it should. Yes, we can infer a fair bit of information from the traffic noise around us. But not enough. It helps to ride as if you're silent and invisible, because to most drivers, we are.
     
  14. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Oh well, leave it to the government to spend large quantities of cash and time only to come to the same conclusion as an episode of "Weeds".

    They're real quiet, good for sneaking up on MF'ers...

    Prius supporters we might not like to hear it, but didn't we already know this?
     
  15. Fred_H

    Fred_H Misoversimplifier

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    Yes we already know this.

    Everyone knows that quieter cars are potentially more dangerous.

    Potentially.

    We don't need statisticians to calculate that for us.

    Everyone knows that airplanes are potentially more dangerous than cars.

    Potentially.

    Actually, airplanes are safer than cars.

    Actually.

    We know this because the statisticians calculated it for us.
     
  16. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    Is there data showing the deaf are at an elevated risk?

    How much up or down? Where is the data?

    Perhaps you didn't read this from the NHTSA:

    http://www.autoblog.com/2009/09/22/nhtsa-u-s-road-fatalities-drop-to-their-lowest-level-since-198/

    So we have the NHTSA data:
    http://www.iihs.org/research/fatality_facts_2008/default.html

    The problem is the actual numbers of fatalities continue to go down. But my mind is open. Bring out the data ... not the dead . . . who seem to be fewer and fewer.
     
  17. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    I wonder if some luxury cars are as quiet as the Prius. My anecdotal experience listening to them as they drive in parking lots suggests this to be the case.
     
  18. JATiii

    JATiii Druid

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    Ahh, nothing better than a group that gets defensive!:D

    I'm active in several forums for airplanes, bikes and this one. Every one has members who are defensive about the topic or the particular brand and think that everyone else is out to get them. It's what makes trolls so effective. In general, these defensive folks do not add much of value to the conversations.

    I won't grace the absurd deaf comment with an answer. If you don't already know the answer, anything anyone else will tell you won't change anything.

    I drive about 10,000 miles a year and ride a bicycle about 4,500 miles a year. I often tote my bike with my car to where I ride. I have no bias here, I like both.

    Electric cars ARE quieter and that presents challenges for others who have been trained for more than a hundred years of auto use and for centuries before that of evolution to use sound as one part of the sensory experience to gain knowledge about the objects near them. Do you really/ need dozens of studies to tell you what you already know? Let's not dispute the concern, but look for a good solution.

    Maybe the answer is to educate everyone else or perhaps to add synthetic sound to the cars. My choice is to get rid of seat belts and airbags, then put a very sharp knife sticking out of the steering wheel and about 2 inches from the driver's throat. I bet we'd have a lot less accidents then!
     
  19. Rybold

    Rybold globally warmed member

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    Pedestrians who talk on cell phones and don't pay attention to their surroundings will perish.
    Pedestrians who are aware of their surroundings will survive.

    It's just natural selection. :D
    It's been going on for millions of years. It's a great system. Why try to change it?
     
  20. Celtic Blue

    Celtic Blue New Member

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    It's wimpy and I don't need it for pedestrians, I can say, "Excuse me!" and they will hear it.

    I would like to change out the horn for something beefy, so when I do lay on it folks will startle/actually hear it.
     
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