The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Feds Set Sound Requirements for Hybrids, EVs

November 14, 2016

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has introduced a new sound requirement for all newly manufactured hybrid and electric light-duty vehicles to help protect pedestrians.

The federal safety standard is aimed particularly at helping pedestrians who are blind or have low vision. But such sound alerts will also make it easier for other pedestrians to detect the presence, direction, and location of these vehicles when they’re traveling at low speeds. The new audible requirement will help prevent about 2,400 pedestrian injuries each year once all vehicles in the fleet are properly equipped, NHTSA said in a released statement.

NHTSA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“We all depend on our senses to alert us to possible danger,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “With more, quieter hybrid and electrical 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.”

Under the new rule, all hybrid and electric light vehicles with four wheels and a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less will be required to make audible noise when traveling in reverse or forward at speeds up to 30 kilometers per hour (about 19 miles per hour). At higher speeds, the sound alert is not required because other factors, such as tire and wind noise, provide adequate audible warning to pedestrians.

“This is a common-sense tool to help pedestrians — especially folks who are blind or have low vision — make their way safely,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “With pedestrian fatalities on the rise, it is vitally important we take every action to protect the most vulnerable road users.”

Manufacturers have until Sept. 1, 2019, to equip all new hybrid and electric vehicles with sounds that meet the new federal safety standard. Half of new hybrid and electric vehicles must be in compliance one year before the final deadline.

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