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Silence Is Golden?

Can a car engine be too quiet? In the case of hybrid cars, those hushed engines may pose an unforeseen risk because they are too quiet to be heard by pedestrians. Idling hybrids pull out of driveways and pedestrians, who don’t hear the roar of an engine, continue walking into the car’s path. I would think the reduction in noise pollution (like the lessening of air pollution) would be considered a benefit of the technology. (I know I’d like quieter streets here in New York.) But I never considered the possible drawbacks of quiet Hybrids.

Is this an issue that should be caught as part of the design and development process? What other surprising problems have arisen from new technologies?

KO