Government to require hybrid, electric cars to make noise


Automakers will have until Sept. 1, 2019, to meet the requirement, although the U.S. Department of Transportation said half of their electric and hybrid fleets must have audible alerts by September 2018. It's unclear exactly what sort of sound the mandate requires, here's hoping this isn't something similar to those backup beeps that many vehicles use today.

However, society as a whole still comes out ahead, with costs to OEMs around $39.29 million for the 2020 model year and benefits for preventing an estimated 2,400 injuries a year in the low hundred millions of dollars. To prevent that from happening, the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has added a sound requirement for all newly built hybrid and EVs.

The "Quiet Car" rule, announced by the agency on Monday, will require both plug-in hybrids and battery-operated electric vehicles to make noise at speeds of 30kph (19mph) or less, while moving forward or in reverse. Pretty straightforward, isn't it?

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Of course, when driving at speeds above 35 miles per hour, wind and tire noise are more likely to be louder to nearby pedestrians and bicyclists than engine noise, so the real concern here is low-speed maneuvers.

"This is a common-sense tool to help pedestrians-especially folks who are blind or have low vision-make their way safely", said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, in a statement. "With pedestrian fatalities on the rise, it is vitally important we take every action to protect the most vulnerable road users".

Eric Bridges, director of the American council of the Blind, said it welcomed the adoption of the safety rule and said it would provide an "additional safety cue for all pedestrians who share the streets with hybrid or electric vehicles".

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The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 was mandated and signed into law in 2011 to establish a standard for sound beacons on so-called quiet cars.

Adding a little severity and some new fix procedures, the NHTSA on Monday mandated that all new electric or hybrid vehicles make enough "noise" that the visually impaired can hear them. This new rule will reduce the said risk.

The safety specification requires auto makers to use a two-tone signal similar to that now emitted by heavy vehicles when they are reversing.

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