The NHTSA considers taking steps to better safeguard pedestrians

There are millions upon millions of laws and regulations on the books at the federal and state level. Virtually all of these measures were enacted with the intention of serving the public’s interest in some meaningful way, as perceived by those lawmakers and regulators that passed them. 

Yet, laws and regulations serve little purpose if they aren’t properly enforced. Without awareness of a law or regulation and enforcement of its provisions, any particular measure amounts to little more than lines on a page. 

This seems to have been the case with the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. This law mandates that all motor vehicles must employ a method for “alerting blind and other pedestrians of the presence and operation of nearby motor vehicles to enable such pedestrians to travel safely and independently.” Yet, many electric and hybrid vehicles remain dangerously quiet, which is a reality that places pedestrians at a genuine and heightened risk of being struck. 

An investigation has been initiated

In response to concerns that many models of hybrid vehicles from 1997 onward still aren’t in compliance with this law, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) opened an investigation into this issue in late January. 

Depending on the outcome of the NHTSA’s efforts, owners of non-compliant models may need to outfit their vehicles with pedestrian noisemakers. One of the reasons why the NHTSA finally took steps to address this issue is that a petition submitted to the agency claims that any non-compliant models are, essentially, traveling U.S. roads while being affected by a known safety defect.

There is no question that pedestrians face significant safety risks every time they set foot outside the door, as American roads were largely made with cars – not foot traffic – in mind. Bolstering the safety of the nation’s pedestrians can empower them to “keep on walking” and to invest in a greater understanding of their rights

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