The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants electric and hybrid vehicles to make noise to alert pedestrians, cyclists, and others of their presence. The vehicles are naturally very quiet and there have been numerous incidents in which quiet hybrids have struck unsuspecting pedestrians.

What the NHTSA Ruling States

By the year 2019, all new electric and hybrid vehicles must contain external speakers that make artificial sound while in operation. By “operation” the NHTSA means:

  • Stationary
  • Reversing
  • Moving up to 19 miles per hour

The NHTSA says that the sounds are not necessary at higher speeds because tire and wind noise “provide adequate audible warning to pedestrians.”

So what kind of noise will the vehicles make? The noise does not have to sound like an internal combustion engine. The NHTSA wants these vehicles to emit sounds between 315 and 5000 Hz.

The NHTSA estimates that once all hybrid and electric vehicles meet these sound requirements, it will save about 2,400 pedestrian injuries every year.

Are all hybrids and electric vehicles subject to these changes?

The new rule applies to hybrid and electric light vehicles that contain four wheels and have a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 10,000 pounds. Vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating above 10,000 pounds are not subject to the new rules. Electric motorcycles and three-wheel vehicles are also exempt.

Some Expect Pushback on New Rules

A similar measure passed in Europe in 2014. Trevor Cox, a professor of acoustic and audio engineering in England opposed the European Parliament’s vote requiring all new electric and hybrid vehicles have “Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems.”

He noted that he was recovering from an injury he suffered when a pedestrian walked in front of his silent vehicle (a bicycle). His concern is that if all vehicles make noise, pedestrians will become more complacent and less attentive at a time when many are trying to reduce instances of distracted walking. He pointed out that studies in Japan and the Netherlands found no increased risk of accidents when hybrid cars travel at low speeds, contradicting the results of a U.S. study.

Injured in a Car Accident? Call Jason R. Schultz

If you were in an accident, involving an electric or hybrid vehicle or not, talk with a car accident lawyer. Contact the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. to learn about your legal rights and take action to get compensation for your damages. Call us today at 404-474-0804 to schedule your appointment for a free consultation.

Jason R. Schultz
Helping Georgia area residents with car accident, medical malpractice, and personal injury claims since 1991.
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