DOT proposes sound requirements for hybrid, electric vehicles

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Per the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration offered this week a proposal to make hybrid and electric vehicles louder in order to meet the minimum sound requirements of the PSEA.

Because electric and hybrid vehicles at lower speeds do not rely on gasoline or diesel power, they’re quieter and more difficult for pedestrians to hear, NHTSA says, and, according to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141, the sounds should be detectable under a wide range of street noises and other background noise when the vehicles are moving at speeds lower than 18 mph. 

NHTSA says the vehicle manufacturers would have a wide range of choices as far as what sounds to choose, but the sounds themselves, too, would be subject to federal requirements. The measure, if implemented, would prevent 2,800 pedestrian and pedal-cyclist injuries “over the life of each model year of hybrid cars, trucks and vans and low-speed vehicles,” says NHTSA. 

The proposal was made Monday to the Federal Register, and the public will have 60 days to comment after it is published.