A new safety standard from the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is hoping to prevent pedestrian accidents. The regulation will require new hybrid and electric cars to create a minimum amount of sound when driving at lower speeds.
Unlike the internal combustion engines in traditional cars, an electric motor does not make any noise. This means that at lower speeds, electric vehicles are practically silent. While this might seem like a good quality, it can also become a safety hazard. Pedestrians don’t always know when an electric vehicle is coming. This can be especially problematic for people who are blind or have poor vision, since they rely on hearing to detect their surroundings.
Specifically, the new regulation will require all electric and hybrid motor vehicles with four wheels and a total weight of 10,000 pounds or less to create audible noise when they travel at under 19 miles per hour. Experts say that additional noise will not be necessary at higher speeds, since sounds like wind and tire tread already provide enough warning.
Will the New Rule Prevent Pedestrian Accidents?
The NHTSA is predicting that if the standard is effective it could prevent as many as 2,400 accidents each year. Electric cars are currently a niche market, but as that niche potentially grows, it may become increasingly important that there are safety standards in place to make sure these vehicles are safe.
Technology is constantly changing how we travel, and these changes will mean new safety challenges on the road. Drivers, regulators, communities and automakers all need to do their part to find ways to address these issues and ensure that our roads continue to become safer for everyone.