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Proposed Minimum Sound Requirement Rule for Hybrids and EVs - Please comment

Here are is the article published by the NHTSA about their rule proposal for noisemakers on Hybrids and EV's. The proposal was sent for publication in the Federal Register yesterday. After publication in the Federal Register there is a 60 day public comment period. You will find a link to the proposal at the bottom of the article. Instructions for submitting comments are in the document.

I would encourage thoughtful comments on this proposal. Personally, I think that the requirements are excessive and I am not convinced that it will have any impact at all on their safety goals. I think that constant noisemaking at speeds of 18 mph and below will just add to the problem by increasing ambient noise and confusion making it even more difficult to identify moving Hybrids and EV's.

I think that they can do much better.

So my question is:

Is the higher incidence rates for hybrid electric vehicles due to pedestrians expecting to hear a car approaching and as such don't "see" it approaching?

Or is it that hearing takes priority over sight in certain situations?

If the first case is true, as people become more and more aware of silent vehicles (bikes, quiet ICE, and BEV) they will start paying more attention.

I think there is a lot of research too that proves under certain circumstances, if you don't expect to see something, you wont see it, even if you stare straight at it. e.g. This is a significant safety issue in Australia for motorbikes and bikes; drivers, etc, don't expect to see them and as a result don't see them even if they look.

Here is the video that illustrates this point. Make sure you are paying attention before watching it.

Some documentation (watch the video first before looking at this):

And once everything out there is blaring away with alert noises their effectiveness will be diminished. Anyone remember driving before "High Mount Stop/Brake Lights" became a requirement? Once they were required they got everyone's attention for awhile because no one was used to seeing them so for a time the bright red lamp directly in your forward line of sight was effective. But how about now? When is the last time you remember even noticing one? or making a distinction between a high mount or any other brake lights?

A non sighted individual is little different than a seeing individual blasting his/her headsets while walking and looking the other way as it pertains to oncoming traffic.

All accidents cannot be legislated away or every possible eventuality prepared for. Nor can stupid be fixed. As in most cases, no "new" laws or requirements seem in order here. Just "enforcement" of existing laws and for "us" as EV drivers to realize what our choice of transportation beings into the mix in the wild.

@ penguin_brian;

Great Videos,
The gorilla video has been used in awareness training for some time. I remember seeing it "or similar" back in the 80's and could not believe how I could have missed it. Classic not seeing the tree for the forest!

I can vouch for the fact that even with a noisy ICE vehicle, people walk in front. I drive a V8 with a rumbling exhaust. It doesn't stop pedestrians from walking in front without looking - especially at low speed.

Adding noisemakers to EVs won't help, and will just cause noise pollution.

The same arguments were used against seat belts (I will be trapped, I am not stupid enough to hit anything), air bags, crumple zones, rollover standards, side impact standards, elevator announcements, talking crosswalks, helmet use, etc. l won't call naysayers Luddites, but the solution on the Volt appears pretty reasonable and many Volt owners think it is effective. It puts the onus for pedestrian warning on the driver, so as to not automatically pollute with sound, but does it with a sound that is less noxious than a standard horn. If we go in saying "no" like the environmentalists did on Keystone, we will be seen as the crazy fringe that are represented in some of this thread's alarmist responses, and will be steamrolled just like the pipeline naysayers are about to be. It might be better to manage this process than to end up under the bus entirely.

The Volt's pedestrian alert system is demonstrated here:

Seems reasonable.

Yes, but is irrelevant to a mandate for a continuous warning tone, which is the subject of the legislation. Every EV, noise-making, all the time.

Very true. Brian H

EV's and Hybrids are everywhere around here. There can be a dozen or more in an intersection or garage moving at low speed at the same time.

As more EV's and Hybrids hit the road the constant noise will be more of a hazard than help.

The news release about the rule is here:

The place to make comments is here:!submitComment;D=NHTSA-2011-0148-0049

If you're going so slow that you don't make a sound, it doesn't look like the setup for a very violent accident now does it? Seems to me that some people are looking for any way possible to lower the appeal of electric cars and hopefully (to them) delay their supremacy.

Buy a cowbell, lower your window and shake it. Use little or a lot of force, depending on need. |:-p

Looks like the NHTSA rules are delayed to 2014, and are being asked to delay implementation form 2016 to 2018.

Why would minimum noise apply only to hybrids and electric vehicles, and not all vehicles.

Should there also be a maximum?

Should it be illegal for pedestrians and bicyclists to use any device that impedes their ability to hear the minimum sound?

This noise thing is crazy. What about looking right and left when crossing, and use crosswalks!! We need quitter cities, not EV street concerts!!! With all the noise we have today, blind people cannot rely on hearing anyway, so they know how to cross safely!

@Jonathan C

Perhaps there is still time to write the NHTSA since there is a delay. They have industries pushing for these items. We need greater numbers to be heard.

This is infuriating, ridiculous and intrusive. It will make the city more of a nightmare of noise pollution than ever before. In my city, people walk in front of cars all the time, most quite deliberately, you know, DARING you to hit them. What the hell is *more noise* going to do for this; and the oblivious earbud crowd?


Well I’m in Switzerland so I will not be able to help you much I guess. But Europe already ruled this nonsense:

Good thing I’m in Switzerland for once ehehe.

I'm sure some people would disable this on their cars, legal or no.

Personally, I reckon blind and partially sighted persons probably would have no problems hearing a Model S, they hearing way surpasses that of normally sighted persons.

It's the dopey dipshits walking about with headphones or talking on their mobiles who are at risk.

I’ve said it before: in every city in which I've ever driven (there are hundreds) pedestrians jaywalk in front of all vehicles with a "I dare you to hit me" attitude. We don't need government mandated noise! We need fewer idiots/assholes/whatever.

I have barely missed being hit twice in crosswalks by the most quiet threat . . . a bicycle.

Toyota already does this on my Camry hybrid. A little growls nois celebratory behind the grill. Can't cost more than a buck or two. If others did this the reg would not be needed. I remember when seat belts were a controversial regulation also.. Manufacturers fought paying the $ 10 per car ('60's pricing) so they got a regulation instead.

Same story for airbags in the 90's.

Regulations are what you get when manufacturers don't do easy and obvious remedies to problems that hurt and kill people. It's unfortunate but that's the way the world works.

The sound of the tires on the road is plenty loud enough for me hear. When a model S drives past my house, it isn't completely silent. When I walk across a parking lot, you can hear a Prius driving by.

A non-problem.

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