US DOT finalizes “quiet cars” rule

BMW i3

The US DOT has finalized rules that will require “quiet cars” (electrified vehicles) to emit “alert sounds” to warn pedestrians of their approach.

The long-delayed rules, which were mandated by Congress in 2010, will require electrified vehicles to generate sounds when moving at speeds of up to 18.6 miles per hour. At higher speeds, according to regulators, tire and wind noise make artificial sounds unnecessary.

The new regulation requires automakers to add the sounds to 50 percent of vehicles by September 2019, and to all vehicles by September 2020. Regulators said they will consider a request from automakers to allow car owners to select from multiple sounds.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says it expects about 530,000 model 2020 vehicles to be affected. NHTSA says the rules will cost the auto industry about $40 million per year, as automakers will need to add an external waterproof speaker to comply. However, the agency predicts the new rules will prevent 2,400 injuries annually, saving between 250 million and 320 million dollars.

NHTSA estimates that the odds of a hybrid vehicle being involved in a pedestrian crash are 19 percent higher than those of a legacy vehicle. About 125,000 pedestrians and cyclists are injured each year on US roads.

“This rule strikes the right balance for automakers and for the blind community,” said Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.


Source: Reuters

  • John Trotter

    If I had a choice, I’d pick the sound of sleigh bells which jingle faster depending on the car’s speed.

    • Lance Pickup

      Jetsons sound for me.

  • bob

    the sound track from Jaws!

  • Sprocket

    I want the jetsons flying car sound 😀

  • Ed

    Another nice win by Detroit against those damn electric cars.

  • Ramon A. Cardona

    The Nussan Leaf has had a “Pedestrian Warning System” since the first car. It also has a backup warning beep-beep sound. The reality as to car/pedestrian accidents, in my four year Leaf driving experience, pedestrians do not look out for vehicles! Besides, all cars have a “pedestrian warning system” already: the horn.

    • John M. Glennie

      …and people don’t seem to know what the sound is so don’t move anyway.

      • Sprocket

        Yeah My 2018 Volt has a sound, but its not very loud and no one seems to notice it. I cant even hear it inside the car.

        • Ramon A. Cardona

          Same for my Nissan Leaf. So, I do not know what prevention of accidents this rule will have. Joe/Jane insist on walking across or by roadways as if vehicles did not exist. Best be on the look out. Personally, and I have to ICE cars, the “silent” EV’s are not the problem.

  • John M. Glennie

    My LEAF already has a sound, but I’ll go with a light saber sound.

  • Eletruk

    Wonder what sound Tesla will go with?

  • Jason Panosh

    You’ve got to love America. Any one can own a gun, and how many people get killed every year because there are basically no gun laws. You can install/change your own electrical systems in your house, I wonder how many people die each year from electrocution. There is a big emphasis on people having to look out for themselves.
    Yet, here you have the auto industry, that had spent decades trying to reduce the sound of their cars, and now that has been achieved they want to introduce it again. Not only totally illogical, but also inconsistent across their society, “I don’t care if you kill people with a gun, in a manner not of their choosing, but if you can’t look out for yourself while walking around cars then we’ll help by making sure those cars make a noise (that most likely get ignored anyway)”.

  • CSmith

    Wouldn’t it make sense for Tesla cars to simply sense the nearby presence of pedestrians using its cameras before making some annoying noise?

  • Dan Oberste

    The sound should only have to be as loud as the quietest ICE car that doesn’t require artificial sound.

  • Jim Stack

    They also need to limit the LOUD vehicles like motorcycles with straight pipes. I work with the Blind and they tell me the LOUD sound is terrifying and causes the most trouble. They can’t tell where its coming from since it’s so LOUD. FIX the REAL PROBLEM of LOUD vehicles.

  • Dudley

    Without any regulations regarding standard sounds, there will be a cacophony of noises and “ring tones” which will be confusing and distracting to the public. Not only that, how are sight- or hearing-impaired people with guide animals going to be protected if the animal cannot distinguish a known warning sound from music on the radio? If any sound pattern is allowed, then nothing will be improved. There are distinct regulations regarding the tone and volume of horns; the noise maker must have similar well-defined regulations too.

  • cbdh19

    There’s so much noise in modern society that you have to add noises to make sure the noise is heard over the noise.

  • Mike Tuccelli

    Oh that’s absurd. I’m 100% deaf and don’t need artificial sound!
    Anyone needs an expert witness to challenge this absurd rule? Having a disability doesn’t give a person a license to be a handicapped jerk and whine for accommodations!

  • Be

    Horrible, horrible, horrible law.

    We finally get quiet cars and people want to make them noisy. Noise kills. Noise causes stress. Noise ruins quality of life.

    Therefore if we are going to deliberately add noise to quiet cars, let’s add whips to slap deaf people. Let’s add fences along all roads for clumsy people. Let’s have an electronic gate that only allows crossing when it’s safe for foolish people. Let’s add bells on pedestrians so we can hear them coming. Same for bikes.

    Cover nature with concrete ramps everywhere, so the handicapped can see the nature that’s no longer there because of the ramps.

    Note some gas cars are quieter than EV’s. but they don’t need to make noise.

    Note Tesla’s will already stop if a pedestrian is in the way.

    I bet this is a fossil car industry backed attack on EV’s.

    Humans are disgusting. We ruin everything.