New Proposed Rule May Require Hybrid Cars to Produce More Sound

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA ) is proposing a rule that would require electric vehicles to make noise as they approach pedestrians, according to Bloomberg News. This is due to the lack of noise that electric vehicles currently make, which can pose a danger to pedestrians.

The details of this proposed ruling would require electric cars and hybrid cars to make audible sounds when traveling at speeds higher than 18 mph. This would warn pedestrians, bicyclists and the visually impaired of the vehicle’s approach.

According to the NHTSA, this rule would prevent some 2800 injuries that are a result of people not hearing hybrid or electric vehicles as they approach. In addition, the NHTSA said that outfitting vehicles with speakers would cost roughly around $35 per vehicle and would result in a cost of around $25 million per year.

This rule stems from the mandate given to the NHTSA through the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010. This mandate was given to allow the NHTSA to establish regulations for improving pedestrian safety.

Jesse Toprak, an analyst with TrueCar.com, explained that $35 per car is a small price to pay when weighed against the prevention of injury and death. Not only would this ruling require vehicles to produce noise when driving at speeds at or above 18 mph, cars moving in reverse would also be required to produce sounds.

This was discussed in greater detail by Tom Gara, who writes for the Wall Street Journal. Gara states that initial approved sounds were something similar to what a gas powered vehicle would make. However, that plan was quickly abdicated because the NHTSA felt this would not be distinguishable enough.

Gara continues that the proposed sound is more like a futuristic hum whose pitch changes as the vehicle increases speed. This change in pitch is intended to help pedestrians to determine whether the vehicle was speeding up or slowing down.

This regulation would also require auto manufacturers to create specific speaker and sound systems for their hybrid or electric vehicles. The speakers would need to be weather resistant and also house signal inputs that deliver vehicle operation data.

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