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Have you ever heard an electric car driving down the street? Chances are you haven’t. And that’s the problem. They’re just too darn quiet. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined these vehicles to be too quiet, and therefore a hazard to pedestrians. The theory is, if you are walking down the street, and you step off of the sidewalk to cross the road, you won’t hear this thing coming, because they are so super quiet. While we agree these electric and hybrid vehicles are too quiet, we question why pedestrians can’t use their eyes before crossing the road.
The NHTSA wants these vehicles to meet minimum sound standards so that pedestrians can hear them approaching on them. Of particular concern is the visually impaired pedestrians. Many hybrids do utilize carbon burning fuel powered engines at least some of the time, but when they are running on electric only, the same concerns apply.
Lawmakers and regulators are mainly concerned about noise at low speeds. Their concern is for when the automobiles are traveling at low speeds, perhaps 20 MPH or less. The thought is that on busy city streets is where most pedestrian vs car accidents occur. You typically don’t see pedestrians get hit by autos on major highways. Plus, these vehicle begin to make sufficient noise at higher speeds.
If a pedestrian can sense the presence of an auto, they will be better able to detect, and avoid them. Just how these sounds would be produced, and what kind of sound has yet to be determined. But we suspect auto manufacturers will come up with some innovative ideas.
Personally, we would love to hear a car make the roar of a lion. That would be cool. How ’bout you? What kind of noise would you like to hear a car make?