Electric cars have been deemed too quiet when travelling at slow speeds, and as such pose a safety risk to pedestrians and cyclists. The US government has told EV, and hybrid manufacturers that their cars must issue a noise that allows them to be identified above ambient street noise when travelling at speeds lower than 18 miles an hour.
The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141, issued by the Department of Transportation, is intended to help pedestrians, especially the visually impaired, identify unseen, slow moving vehicles.
Ray LaHood, the US Transportation Secretary, announced that “safety is our highest priority, and this proposal will help keep everyone using our nation's streets and roadways safe, whether they are motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians, and especially the blind and visually impaired.”
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The EV industry has faced criticism in the past for the quietness of their vehicles, with safety groups concerned for the welfare of pedestrians. The new rules have a 60-day consultation period, and will then come into effect later in the year; it is unlikely that manufacturers will mount any opposition.
David Strickland, of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, commented that the rules 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 recognise a vehicle and make a decision about whether it is safe to cross the street.”
I can’t imagine what sort of sounds may be considered, but surely anything other than an engine like noise would be odd and possibly ugly. The beep of a reversing lorry would be unbearable if the EV was stuck in slow moving traffic for hours.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com