A world first study in Brisbane is investigating the dangers “low noise” hybrid vehicles pose to pedestrians.

The revolutionary study will test the theory that the cars are just too quiet to hear.

Nolan Giles reports.

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As new cars become quieter, their risk to pedestrians becomes greater.

That’s what RACQ tests at Lakeside Raceway are trying to determine.

Russell Manning, RACQ Researcher: “From the few tests that we have already done today there is a suggestion that people can’t hear these cars until they’re quite close so there is a risk there.”

In the test environment the blind are pitted against the blindfolded with their reactions monitored as cars approach.

Real world noises simulate a busy road and the impaired volunteers trigger a light when they here the vehicle approaching.

It’s not just blind pedestrians who will be affected by the new technology, anyone not paying attention to traffic could be in danger.

Gerrard Gosens, Vision Australia: “It is really tough not only for a person who is blind or who has low vision, but I think potentially for young kids on skateboards and people jogging with iPods.”

Hybrid vehicles are seen as the next generation of cars, but so far the dangers of their quiet engines have not been measured.

RACQ hope the research will aid Australian and international governments as we move into a new era of futuristic vehicles.

Joe Fitzgerald, RACQ: “Hybrid technology is very much a transitional technology, the real risk is when we move into all electric vehicles because even when they are moving at high speeds they are going to be almost silently.”

Solutions, such as low frequency hums emitted from cars after they reach higher speeds could be the answer.

Nolan Giles, QUT News