NHTSA Wants to Add Sound to Electric Vehicles

Government officials are concerned that people with limited vision may be in danger of stepping in front of an electric vehicle because they can?t hear it coming, so they have started the process of requiring sound.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will propose regulations to protect unsuspecting pedestrians and the visually-impaired from accidents involving hybrid and electric vehicles.? Several manufacturers of hybrid and electric vehicles are already working on the problem.

“America’s streets must be safe for everyone who uses them,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.? “As we improve the environment with cleaner cars, we must also consider how it affects those on bikes and on foot.”

(As a side note, they should probably be considering the same type of devices for bicycles, which created the same potential problem.)

To hear some of the sounds that may be proposed: Listen to proposed pedestrian alert sounds

The action was mandated by the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, will help NHTSA lay the groundwork for a proposed rulemaking to help pedestrians detect the presence of quieter vehicles.? NHTSA will evaluate the merits of possible rulemakings, including requiring electric and hybrid carmakers to add sounds that alert the visually-impaired and other pedestrians when these vehicles are operating in certain low speed maneuvers.

“Even as we make giant leaps forward with hybrid and electric vehicles, we must remain laser focused on safety,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.? “With more and more quiet vehicles on the road, we have to consider their effect on pedestrians.”

Once the notice is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 30 days to submit comments on this NHTSA action.


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