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NHTSA Requires Future Hybrid And Electric Cars To Make A Sound While Below 19 MPH: Quiet Vehicles Will Be No More

14 November 2016, 8:54 pm EST By Aaron Mamiit Tech Times
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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced the hybrid and electric cars in the future are required to make a sound while running on speeds below 19 miles per hour.

Known as the "quiet car" rule, the regulation will bring an end to one of the nifty perks of driving an electric vehicle, and that is being able to enjoy a noise-free engine.

The History Of The "Quiet Car" Rule

Regulators took a significantly long time to decide on passing the regulation, as a ruling has been in the works since 2013.

The NHTSA then estimated that the chances of a quiet hybrid or electric vehicle causing an accident involving a pedestrian was 19 percent higher compared to a noise-making gas-powered vehicle. In the original proposal of the ruling, the estimate was that it could reduce instances of injuries caused to pedestrians and bicycle riders by 2,800 per year, a figure that has since been reduced to 2,400 per year.

"Quiet Car" Regulation Details

According to a press release by the NHTSA, the reasoning behind the ruling is that it would help in protecting pedestrians, especially those who have low vision or blind, as they would now be hearing the arrival of previously silent hybrid and electric vehicles.

Under the ruling, all four-wheeled hybrid and electric vehicles with a gross weight of less than 10,000 pounds will be required to make a sound while traveling forward or backward at speeds of up to 30 kilometers per hour, equivalent to about 19 miles per hour.

According to the NHTSA, the requirement to make a sound is lifted for faster speeds, as other factors such as the noise made by the vehicle's tires and the wind, will provide the sufficient sound to warn pedestrians of the incoming car.

"This new safety standard moving forward will not just make our streets safer for blind and visually impaired Americans, but also serve as an additional safety cue for all pedestrians who share the streets with hybrid or electric vehicles," said American Council of the Blind executive director Eric Bridges.

"Quiet Car" Rule Implementation

The regulation, however, does not immediately require car manufacturers to implement sound makers in their vehicles. The companies have until Sept. 1, 2019 to begin equipping all their new hybrid and electric cars with the necessary devices to comply with the "quiet car" rule. However, half of all the new hybrid and electric cars should be making the required sounds a year before the final deadline, which would be on Sept. 1, 2018.

The three years given to the automobile manufacturers to comply with the law is much longer than the 18 months that was originally proposed. As such, the regulation, which started its life in 2013, will have waited six years before it sees full implementation, showing how slow the law is to adapting to the quick development of automobile technology.

The Nissan Leaf and the Kia Soul electric vehicles already have noisemakers installed for years, and there is a chance that all other affected car companies will comply before the stated deadline.

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