U.S. highway safety watchdog proposes sound regulations for EVs, hybrids

Written By: Thatcher Michelsen January 9, 2013 0
The top U.S. highway safety commission is drafting a set of rules that would require EVs and hybrid cars to make more noise.
The top U.S. highway safety commission is drafting a set of rules that would require EVs and hybrid cars to make more noise.

Following consumer complaints about electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid cars that are too quiet to hear, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing a set of rules that would mandate carmakers to increase the sound level of these types of vehicles.

According to Treehugger, a green technology news source, the risks were first identified because slow-travelling EVs and hybrids emit very low amounts of noise. This creates hazards for a number of groups, including bicycles and both the visually and hearing impaired. Some communities in the United States have instituted ordinances against these types of vehicles, but the NHTSA move represents the first comprehensive action to solve this problem. At the heart of the changes is the requirement that any vehicle traveling below 18 miles per hour emit a certain level of sound.

"Our proposal would allow manufacturers the flexibility to design different sounds for different makes and models while still providing an opportunity for pedestrians, bicyclists and the visually impaired to detect and recognize a vehicle and make a decision about whether it is safe to cross the street," NHTSA Administrator David Strickland was quoted as saying.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), which oversees the highway watchdog, released a separate statement which included a commitment to instituting rules for both highway and local travel. Additionally, carmakers will be awarded some time as they adjust to the new regulations, as long as they ultimately adhere to the mandates.

Treehugger reported that, according to the DOT, nearly 3,000 injuries or deaths would be prevented once the rules are given final approval. These changes, which are being crafted as EVs begin to be utilized more often in American communities, are an important part of this evolving market. Stay with Life Is Green for the latest updates about the energy-efficient automobile industry.

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