By September 2019, all new hybrid and electric vehicles in the United States must come with a sound-emitting device that will help reduce the risk of pedestrian accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s new rule requires that all hybrid, electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles be equipped with an acoustic device to help prevent pedestrian accidents. These quiet vehicles pose a potential hazard because pedestrians, both blind and sighted, very often fail to realize that they are in the path of an oncoming quiet car. NHTSA estimates that there are as many as 2,400 pedestrian injuries every year that occur as the result of collisions involving these cars.
The agency clearly lays out the minimum sound requirements for both electric and hybrid vehicles with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or less. The requirement asks manufacturers to ensure that these devices produce sounds that meet the minimal requirements of the standard, and which are high enough so that both blind as well as sighted pedestrians can recognize the danger of an accident and can easily move to avoid one. The noise must be audible, and must be produced when the car is traveling at a speed of less than 19 mph. Vehicles that are moving at greater than this speed do not need to emit the sound, because the wind noise generated by the car traveling at high speeds, is deemed sufficient to alert pedestrians.