New ‘Quiet Car’ Safety Standard Requires Electric Cars to Make Noise at Low Speeds to Protect Pedestrians

It’s not very often that we hear of a government agency wanting vehicles to be louder. However, that is exactly what happened when the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a new requirement for hybrid and electric light cars, which mandates that they make audible noise when traveling in reverse or forward at speeds of 19 miles per hour or less.

The new federal safety standard was set in motion to help protect pedestrians, namely those who are blind or have low vision. The NHTSA estimates the new requirement will prevent about 2,400 pedestrian injuries per year. At higher speeds, the cars make noise because of movement factors such as tires and wind sounds. However, at low speeds, such as those required in a school zone, or at complete stops, the vehicles are virtually silent.

Noise Requirements for New Hybrid ‘Quiet Car’

The new rule states that manufacturers have until September 1, 2019 to make the update to all new hybrid and electric vehicles. Furthermore, manufacturers are required to have half of all new vehicles that fit the description to be in compliance one year before the deadline. Vehicles must be hybrid or electric light weighing 10,000 pounds or less (gross weight) and have four wheels.

In a NHTSA press release announcing the new regulation, NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind said, “This is a common-sense tool to help pedestrians — especially folks who are blind or have low vision — make their way safely. With pedestrian fatalities on the rise, it is vitally important we take every action to protect the most vulnerable road users.”

In a statement issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “We all depend on our senses to alert us to possible danger. With more, quieter hybrid and electrical cars on the road, the ability for all pedestrians to hear as well as see the cars becomes an important factor of reducing the risk of possible crashes and improving safety.”

If you have been seriously injured in a pedestrian accident, you may be entitled to recover compensation for damages incurred. Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to learn more. Personal injury cases fall under strict statute of limitations and insurance companies will try to get you to make a statement without counsel so it is important to speak to an attorney immediately following any type of personal injury accident.

References:

NHTSA Sets ‘Quiet Car’ Safety Standard to Protect Pedestrians. (2016, November 15). Retrieved November 22, 2016, from http://acb.org/PR-NHTSA-Quiet-Car

GM-Volt. (2016, November 14). Retrieved November 22, 2016, from http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?265593-New-EVs-hybrids-must-be-equipped-with-noisemakers-installed-by-1-Sep-2019