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Do electric cars need to make a noise to protect pedestrians?

Pedestrian safety has been a concern for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. To address those concerns, they issued requirements in the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 to help increase pedestrian safety.

Two years after it was passed, the proposed rules have been announced by the NHTSA. The NHTSA proposed that all new electric or hybrid vehicles be required to make a sound when travelling at slow speeds to help alert pedestrians and bicyclists. The NHTSA said that many lives will be saved, estimating that 2,800 pedestrian injuries will be avoided as a result of this requirement.

The proposed rules state that vehicles that don't have a liquid-burning engine should make a sound that will alert pedestrians and bicyclists of their vehicle's location, direction and overall presence, according to the NHTSA.

The proposed rules would impact hybrid and electric vehicles, although the NHTSA said that mainly only hybrid vehicles will be impacted as electric vehicle manufacturers have already started putting sound devices into electric vehicles.

Vehicle manufacturers are able to select what sound the vehicle makes under the proposed rules. The rules require that vehicles make a noise when they are not moving as well as when they are travelling at speeds lower than 18 miles per hour.

The NHTSA recommended the proposed rules to reduce and prevent vehicle collisions with pedestrians and bicyclists. They believe that the sound requirement will make it easier for pedestrians, bicyclists and the visually impaired to know when it is safe to cross the street.

Source: Green Auto Blog, "NHTSA: Under 18 mph, electric vehicles will need to make 'alert sound,'" Sebastian Blanco, Jan. 7, 2013

Our law firm helps victims of pedestrian and bicycle accidents. To learn more about our law firm and how we can help, please visit our Bicycle Accident page.

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