It’s not in the spirit of EVs, but it is important for road safety

Electric cars are known for being quiet on the road. But, is there such a thing as being too quiet? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration thinks so, and after years of developing rules to address the issue, the NHTSA has finally come out with specific guidelines regarding this particular predicament. Beginning in 2020, all electric cars are required to create a minimum amount of sound at low speeds for the specific purpose of alerting pedestrians and cyclists of their presence.

The Rules are Set in Stone - Electric Cars Must Make Noise at Low Speeds by 2020 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Discussions about low-emitting noise devices actually go all the way back to 2010 when electric cars started hitting the market.

Discussions about low-emitting noise devices actually go all the way back to 2010 when electric cars started hitting the market. The issue itself isn’t so much about the cars producing zero noise, but the effect they have on pedestrians, some of whom may not be aware of the presence of these cars when the latter is sneaking up on them in areas like side streets and parking lots. According to the NHTSA, the odds of an electric car or hybrid getting involved in an incident with a pedestrian are 19-percent higher compared to louder gas-powered vehicles.

The agency has been trying to address the issue for quite some time. Numerous delays — it’s the government — have prevented any sort of implementation of the so-called “quiet car rule,” but now that the guidelines have been released, electric car companies like Tesla will have to abide by it. According to the rule, automakers will be required to have 50 percent of their electric car fleets equipped with the technology to create low-level noise by September 2019. That percentage goes up to 100 percent, or all EV cars on the road, in 2020. With the rules in place, automakers are now required to install at least one external speaker on electric and hybrid vehicles to emit a constant sound that is recognizable as a motor vehicle in operation” at speeds below 30 km\h, or 18.6 mph. This particular rule has been reviewed and confirmed by the Department of Transportation. As such, automakers will need to take the new rule into account when they’re developing their hybrid and electric vehicles. That said, the rule only applies to light-duty cars and trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of under 10,000 pounds.

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For their part, companies like Nissan and Tesla have already taken steps to address the matter

For their part, companies like Nissan and Tesla have already taken steps to address the matter. Nissan, for example, already has artificial sound technology on cars like the Leaf. Tesla has also made progress developing its own “pedestrian noise” system. A blueprint of the company’s “pedestrian noise” technology already leaked in 2016.

The whole issue about the noise level emitted by electric cars has its pros and cons. On one hand, having these pedestrian noise devices should help raise awareness among pedestrians and cyclists, particularly when an electric car is nearby. There should be no compromises when it comes to safety. On the other hand, including a noise device on electric goes against the spirit of EVs, specifically their contributions to reducing noise pollution in the environment.

Regardless, the rules are now in place, even if took almost eight years to get to this point.

References

2018 Nissan Leaf Drivetrain
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Read more electric car news.

The Rules are Set in Stone - Electric Cars Must Make Noise at Low Speeds by 2020 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2018 Nissan Leaf.

2018 Tesla Model 3 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model 3.

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