The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has just issued rules about electric cars, specifically electric car noise, which is almost nonexistent. The NHTSA has declared electric cars have to make more noise at low speed to ensure pedestrian safety.
Electric car noise has to be audible, says NHTSA
There has been some concern raised over the years about how quiet electric cars are. That’s a good thing for a driver, but for pedestrians, that can be dangerous. Electric motors basically produce a hardly-audible “whirr,” which is less audible than the highly-audible burble from internal combustion engines, especially at low speeds. According to Businessweek, they produce enough noise above 18 miles per hour to be heard, but under that speed, it’s almost inaudible.
Blind people go around on foot, too, and if one can’t see, hearing becomes pretty darn important, which is why the National Federation of the Blind is one of the parties calling for noise makers being fitted to electric cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agrees something has to be done and has declared electric cars and plug-in electric hybrids have to carry noisemakers that makes electric car noise louder below 18 mph.
Three years, possibly, to get it done
The NHTSA, according to AutoBlog, hasn’t issued an official date, as the rule is currently in a 60-day comment period, where the agency can receive comments from automakers and anyone else who wants to sound off, as it were. However, September 2015 is being suggested as the start date, as the NHTSA typically gives carmakers a two- to three-year window before it’s mandatory. That way, they have time to get the necessary parts and tooling in order, bring down economy of scale and so forth.
[To Get The Greatest Bargain For A New Or Pre-Owned Car, Van, Truck or SUV Head Over To Car Lots Everette Without Delay!]
A standardized sound isn’t mandated; according to CNN, car companies can choose sounds and so forth for their cars as they deem fit.
Technically, the NHTSA is about 18 months ahead of schedule in issuing the rule. According to Businessweek, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, passed in 2010, required the agency issue a ruling by July 2014.
Will hardly break the bank
Electric cars are already expensive – and that’s for the ones from major car makers. Tesla cars are only affordable for the rich – and at that, very pretentious rich people – and electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric and the Mistubishi MiEV still go for $25,000 a pop. Then you have to buy a charger, which will run another grand or two.
That said, that doesn’t mean that after the rule takes effect one is going to pay a heck of a lot more for, say, a Nissan Leaf from, say, Magic Nissan of Everett, Wa. Electric cars are less than 1 percent of the overall car market, less than one-third the sales of hybrids and it’s estimated that electric car noise devices will add about $35 to the cost of one.
The NHTSA estimates 2,800 injuries might be prevented by the devices being added to electric cars.