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ARE HYBRID AND ELECTRIC CARS TOO QUIET?

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Wed, Jul 13, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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The Nissan Leaf emits sounds at low speeds and chirps in reverse

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that the agency is taking the first major step toward proposing regulations that it says will protect unsuspecting pedestrians and the visually-impaired from accidents involving hybrid and electric vehicles. "America's streets must be safe for everyone who uses them," says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "As we improve the environment with cleaner cars, we must also consider how it affects those on bikes and on foot." The NHTSA hopes that the action, which is mandated by the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, will help the Agency lay the groundwork for a proposed rulemaking to allow pedestrians detect the presence of quieter vehicles. NHTSA will evaluate the merits of possible rulemakings, including requiring electric and hybrid carmakers to add sounds that alert the visually-impaired and other pedestrians when these vehicles are operating in certain low speed maneuvers. “Some hybrids already have warning systems for pedestrians,” observes Hybrid Owners of America’s Ailis Aaron Wolf. “The Volt has one, although its owners have to turn it on. Japan already requires its automakers to have a sound alert system. The Nissan Leaf emits engine noises at low speeds and makes a chirping sound when in reverse.” "Even as we make giant leaps forward with hybrid and electric vehicles, we must remain laser focused on safety," says NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "With more and more quiet vehicles on the road, we have to consider their effect on pedestrians." Once the notice is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 30 days to submit comments on this NHTSA action. To listen to the types of sounds proposed by the NHTSA, go to nhtsa.gov

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