posted 2 years ago

Hybrid And Electric Vehicles To Make Pedestrian Alert Noises

Which vehicles the new rules relate to, their purpose, performance criteria and the government's perspective.

New rules from 2019

New, quiet, hybrid and electric vehicles must emit artificial noises to warn of their presence from September 1st 2019 in the United States of America, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed. The rule recognises that power plants in such models are quieter than traditional internal combustion units. 

On this basis, electric and hybrid vehicles easily sneak up on pedestrians, cyclists, pensioners in mobility scooters and others which increases the risk of collision. Such parties cannot rely – at least to the same extent – on their hearing to identify such hazards. This is an issue for the visually impaired, in particular.

Applicable vehicles

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explained that its new rules relate to a wide variety of vehicles. These are:

  • 4-wheeled, hybrid, passenger cars capable of travelling forwards or backwards without being propelled by an internal combustion engine with the gross weight of 4,536kg (or less);
  • 4-wheeled, hybrid, light trucks and vans capable of travelling forwards or backwards without being propelled by an internal combustion engine with the gross weight of 4,536kg (or less);
  • 4-wheeled, fully electric, passenger cars with the gross weight of 4,536kg (or less);
  • 4-wheeled, fully electric, light trucks and vans with the gross weight of 4,536kg (or less);
  • 4-wheeled low-speed vehicles.

Performance criteria

Artificial noises from such a vehicle are:

  • to be emitted while travelling forwards;
  • to be emitted while travelling backwards;
  • to change according to velocity;
  • to be a minimum volume;
  • to be emitted at speeds up to 30kp/h;
  • to be inactive beyond 30kp/h as tyre and wind noise compensate at such velocities;
  • to be the same for all vehicles of the same make, model and year;
  • to operate when the power plant is switched on even if the vehicle is stationary unless the gear selector is in “park” or – if it has manual transmission - the parking brake is active. 

Government perspective

United States Transportation, Secretary Anthony, Foxx, said: “We all depend on our senses to alert us to possible danger. With more, quieter hybrid and electric 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.”

American Council of the Blind perspective

Eric Bridges, Executive Director of the American Council of the Blind, added: “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”.