A new proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration could require hybrid and electric cars to sound an alert to pedestrians. These cars are so quiet that they can be almost silent and make it very hard for pedestrians and bikers to hear an approaching vehicle.
The NHTSA posted a notice on their website outlining the first steps toward making this rule into an enforced regulation. It would require light-duty cars, motorcycles, vans, and truckts to automatically sound an alert at a low speed, thus making those types of vehicles safer. Two previous reports investigated by the NHTSA found that quiet hybrid and electric cars pose a greater safety risk than their gas-powered equivalents to pedestrians, and especially to the visually impaired.
The step towards making this a manadatory regulation was mandated under the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, and it calls for the NHTSA to publish a final rule in regards to alerts and the standards by January 2014. Cars such as the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf have these types of sounds already installed; however, the Volt requires the driver to activate the system.
The NHTSA has stated that the agency will explore several options for the sound system that will make use of the best combination of sounds that will be most beneficial for preventing unnecessary accidents.
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