As long as the terms of the lease prohibited maintenance by other than a Hughes technician, GM's liability in the event of a screw-up was much reduced. Technicians can encounter high voltages in hybrid vehicles. In the EV1, there were _really_ high voltages present.
Jenny Sant'Anna was so excited. She had waited months for just the right hybrid, choosing a Toyota Highlander because, though she wants great mileage, she also needs space to cart around her two elementary school kids and three classmates.
It was during her first trip out of the driveway on a warm August morning that Sant'Anna learned about one of the dangerous drawbacks of driving a hybrid: It's so quiet that pedestrians can't hear it when it's starting up or idling, and they often walk right into the path of the moving vehicle.
A hybrid emits less than three decibels of noise when starting up, a level hard to pick up with the human ear. A hybrid clipping along at 35 mph emits 75 decibels -- about as loud as a vacuum cleaner.
...the National Federation of the Blind raised concerns that electric cars and hybrids pose special dangers to people who rely on their hearing to cross a street. The group asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to research the effect of quiet cars on pedestrians. The group suggested some sort of noise be added to hybrids, perhaps by having the radiator fan switch on whenever the car is operating by battery, to alert people walking nearby. So far, no federal studies have been undertaken.
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