For years, electric vehicles have put Ohio residents and others nationally at risk for pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents and car accidents.
At slow speeds, electric cars are nearly impossible to hear. Not realizing a car is coming, pedestrians and cyclists start to cross a street or pass behind a driveway without checking for traffic. Too often, they collide with, or nearly miss, a stealthily quiet hybrid or electric car. People with visual impairments are particularly vulnerable.
Because of the potentially deadly silence of these vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has recommended that the federal government establish minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric cars. The proposed law would require vehicles to make noise audible to bystanders when they are traveling in urban environments or at speeds slower than 18 mph.
The NHTSA believes the new noise standards will result in 2,800 fewer injuries per year to pedestrians and cyclists. Under the proposal, each model will have its own personalized sound, so a cyclist can tell whether the car coming from behind is a Nissan LEAF or a Tesla Roadster.
Automobile manufacturers are already experimenting with alert sounds. Toyota has tested noise warning systems on its Prius hybrid vehicles, and Ford asked its fans on Facebook what they want the Ford Focus hybrid to sound like in the future. These automakers may be able to add the alerts to new models earlier than required.
The proposed regulation will be published for a period of public review and commentary before it becomes effective.
Source: automobilemag.com, "NHTSA proposes minimum sound requirements fir EVs, hybrids," Alex Nishimoto, Jan. 10, 2013
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