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RACQ probes hybrid hazard

  • by The Quotesonline Team

The RACQ has begun a world-first research project into the risk ‘low noise’ hybrid vehicles present to pedestrians, particularly the blind and vision impaired. The project is in response to local and international media reports suggesting near silent hybrid vehicles present a greater hazard to pedestrians, with Vision Australia and Guide Dogs Queensland providing expert assistance to RACQ.

RACQ Technical Researcher Russell Manning said US research had produced conflicting results on the dangers of hybrid vehicles, with one study concluding they presented a higher risk and another finding the opposite. “These US-based tests were each flawed to some degree, as one didn’t use real hybrid vehicles and the other didn’t replicate a real street crossing environment,” he said.

“We’ve taken the initiative to test real hybrid vehicles in real Australian conditions using real people, only then can we determine the potential danger.”

Blind adventurer Gerrard Gosens, a special projects manager at Vision Australia, will be helping RACQ carry out the research project.

Mr Gosens said the research involved volunteers who were sighted, blind and had low vision, in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the risk hybrids posed.

“Pedestrians rely heavily on hearing to identify the distance and speed of nearby vehicles,” he said.

“Because of this, RACQ’s research is critical to gauging whether the quieter hybrids pose a danger, not just to people who are blind or have low vision, but to all pedestrians.”

The vehicle testing takes place at Lakeside Raceway over two days and involves a mix of sighted, blind and low vision volunteers. Sighted volunteers will be blindfolded so both groups are reliant on their hearing to identify when a vehicle is approaching. 

The project will utilise two of the most popular hybrid vehicles on the Australian market for the practical research, along with equivalent conventional vehicles. RACQ expects to release the results by July this year.


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