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Electric cars need to make noise to prevent pedestrian accidents

Do electric and hybrid cars really increase the risk of pedestrian accidents? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration thinks so.

As part of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, the NHTSA announced their proposed rules that would require electric and hybrid vehicles to make a noise when travelling at low speeds to alert pedestrians. The safety rules were proposed in an effort to increase safety for vision-impaired pedestrians and reduce car accidents involving pedestrians.

Certain hybrid and electric vehicles already have a sound that can be used by drivers to alert pedestrians. However, the NHTSA want to require rules for all electric and hybrid vehicles to increase pedestrian safety in the U.S.

The proposed rules by the NHTSA would require hybrid and electric vehicles to make a sound when travelling under 18 miles per hour. They believe this requirement would help pedestrians be aware of vehicles around them and reduce pedestrians being hit by vehicles. The NHTSA said that roughly 2,800 pedestrian injuries can be prevented under these new rules.

While the proposed rules are for both hybrid and electric vehicles, the NHTSA says that hybrid vehicles will mainly be the vehicle affected by the rule. This is because many electric vehicle manufacturers have already started installing sound devices in electric vehicles. The NHTSA said that the average cost per vehicle should be around $30 for manufacturers.

Under the proposed rules, vehicle manufacturers are able to choose what kind of sound the vehicle makes as long as it abides by the proposed guidelines. The proposed rules say that the vehicles need to make a noise while travelling as well as while idling.

The proposed rules are in a comment period right now but if the rules are passed, a phase-in period for the requirements could start in 2015.

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

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