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Some sports cars won't pass minimum noise rules according to automakers

The Obama administration instituted a so-called "quiet cars" rule that would force automakers to add noisemakers to electric and nearly silent vehicles to help alert blind pedestrians. However, major automakers are now complaining that the ruling would result in warning sounds that are too loud.
Two major automotive trade groups to represent the big three in Detroit, Toyota, Volkswagen, and other major Asian and European automakers have voiced concerns about the proposed rules.

According to Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and Association of Global Automakers, the rule, "is too complicated and is unnecessarily prescriptive. If implemented as proposed, it would result in alert sounds that are louder than necessary, create driver and occupant annoyance and cost more than necessary."

Tesla Model S EV

The proposal by the NHTSA would set minimum sound levels for both hybrid and electric vehicles for pedestrians, and specifically to alert visually impaired people. According to automakers, the rules as they are proposed would create electric vehicles that are louder than some high-performance sports cars.

The NHTSA wants to add these noise rules for silent vehicles because the odds of a hybrid vehicle being involved in a crash with a pedestrian are 19% higher compared to vehicles with traditional gasoline or diesel engines. The likelihood of hybrid vehicle being involved in an accident with a bicyclist is reportedly 38% higher. The new rules set forth by the NHTSA are supposed to begin implementation in September 2014.

If the NHTSA refuses to change the rules, auto manufacturers want the phase in to be extended to 2018. Adding the noisemakers is estimated to cost an additional $35 per vehicle and to cost automotive industry $23 million the first year. As the rule stands now the minimum sound requirements would apply at vehicles at speeds of up to 18.6 mph.

Source: Detroit News

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What's the Rule?
By Integral9 on 3/19/2013 10:44:16 AM , Rating: 2
ok, I get that the auto manufacturers are all grumpy about having to put a beeper on their cars, saying that it's too loud and they don't understand the directions. What's too loud? 35dB? 50dB? 150dB? What's so complicated about the directions?

RE: What's the Rule?
By freedom4556 on 3/19/2013 11:58:18 AM , Rating: 2
No, the point here is that the beeper is objectively louder than an idling V8, which is worse than if the car wasn't a hybrid/EV.

RE: What's the Rule?
By Integral9 on 3/19/2013 1:51:42 PM , Rating: 2
is it? I don't know because what the rule is isn't mentioned in the article. All I know is that automakers aren't happy about it. Which is really nothing new. They bitched about adding seat-belts back in the 50s, ABS in the 80s, airbags in the 90s, etc. So I take their bitching with a grain of salt and would like to know what the proposed rules are so I can determine for myself if they are justified in their bitching or just being bitches.

RE: What's the Rule?
By Integral9 on 3/19/2013 2:16:54 PM , Rating: 2
why is it every time i mention a lack of content in an article someone rates me down?

RE: What's the Rule?
By Reclaimer77 on 3/19/13, Rating: -1
RE: What's the Rule?
By Integral9 on 3/19/2013 2:09:42 PM , Rating: 2
While I agree with you to some extent, local governments already make laws regarding how loud vehicles can be, called noise ordinances.

Putting a minimum on the sound a vehicle makes is a bit silly imo. People are just going to have to actually start looking where they are going instead of sucking face to their BBs and cell phones while they walk around town. I suppose it's a learning curve though. It's kinda like when you go to a foreign country and forget they drive on the other side of the road and you look the wrong way before stepping out into the street and get run over. Whether you heard the car coming or not, it doesn't matter.

RE: What's the Rule?
By Reclaimer77 on 3/19/2013 3:08:49 PM , Rating: 2
Yes which is in regards to aftermarket mods. I don't know of state laws dictating factory sound codes to the manufacturers. This is, typical for Obama, too overreaching.

RE: What's the Rule?
By Spuke on 3/19/2013 3:29:46 PM , Rating: 2
Noise ordinances have been around for ages. Nothing new. I will say that most of the ordinances allow for the some pretty loud vehicles. All but maybe the loudest Harley's would pass easily. Besides, enforcement is sporadic at least here in CA.

RE: What's the Rule?
By Reclaimer77 on 3/19/2013 4:20:51 PM , Rating: 2
Noise ordinances have been around for ages. Nothing new.

Yeah but Spuke this IS new. This is the Federal Government dictating this. I mean, why must I be the ONLY one pointing this out? Do that many people really believe that's the role of the Government? Telling car makers that EV's and other vehicles need to be loud? Is there anyone else who thinks that Obama has WAY bigger problems to tackle in this country than this?

Do they even teach the Separated Powers anymore? I feel like I'm on crazy pills every time this Administration goes over the line on something. The President cannot be arbitrarily deciding things like this, it's insane!

RE: What's the Rule?
By Spuke on 3/19/2013 5:05:34 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah but Spuke this IS new.
I wasn't talking about the EV legislation. I was addressing this post:
Yes which is in regards to aftermarket mods. I don't know of state laws dictating factory sound codes to the manufacturers.

My only point in that post is that noise ordinances, which are typically local and may be on a state level too, are nothing new. And auto manufacturers would have to follow them and more than likely the automakers go by the quietest standard.

That said, I'm pretty sure there are federal guidelines/laws on vehicle noise although it is my understanding that states set the exact limits. I think the EV legislation is nothing short of stupidity but are they really overstepping their bounds (meaning is it more a guideline like the present stuff?)? I have not read the new legislation so I don't know the details.

RE: What's the Rule?
By Reclaimer77 on 3/19/2013 5:09:42 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah but you know what I'm saying. Look how upside down we are with priorities. They don't even try to pass a budget, which the law actually requires, but we're instead worried about making EV's annoying enough.

It's just insane. Why doesn't this drive more people nuts?

RE: What's the Rule?
By Spuke on 3/19/2013 5:22:03 PM , Rating: 2
All very true. Their priorities are in total disarray. I swear to God, if I had a billion or a few hundred million laying around I'd sue then on not passing the budget.

It's just insane. Why doesn't this drive more people nuts?
Believe it not, LOTS of people on both sides of the fence are pretty fed up. I know staunch Republicans that don't want anything to do with their party and Democrats that now say they're just liberals (ie not Democrats). Dogs and cats sleeping together!! People really don't know what to do honestly. That's my take on it anyways.

RE: What's the Rule?
By InsGadget on 3/24/2013 12:40:54 PM , Rating: 2
If not the government, then whom? Perhaps an industry watchdog group, but either way someone needs to make sure this is dealt with. I drive a bike and walk on sidewalks a lot, hearing cars behind me is a huge part of my spatial awareness in these situations.

RE: What's the Rule?
By toyotabedzrock on 3/20/2013 2:46:54 AM , Rating: 2
It is to protect blind people who can hear a normal car coming. but an ev on low rolling resistance tires might not be heard by them.

I think some tests with actual newly blinded people. And with dogs in a few senerios would sold the issue.

RE: What's the Rule?
By lyeoh on 3/20/2013 5:16:07 AM , Rating: 2
There is some point to the pushback
By Neodude007 on 3/19/2013 9:37:06 AM , Rating: 2
Carmakers have a point. It might even be one of those "give them an inch and they take a mile" things. Soon all cars will have to undergo expensive sound testing even if gas powered and if they are below a certain threshold then they too will need extra noisemakers.

How about drivers pay attention like they should and always were supposed to?

Aren't blind people supposed to have super powered hearing? Tires on pavement makes sound.

RE: There is some point to the pushback
By othercents on 3/19/2013 9:44:04 AM , Rating: 2
Aren't blind people supposed to have super powered hearing? Tires on pavement makes sound.

Yes, but they have determined that below 20mph there isn't enough road noise to discern a car is there. I also wonder why we don't have flashing lights on our cars for the blind. Wouldn't that reduce accidents with pedestrians?

RE: There is some point to the pushback
By othercents on 3/19/2013 9:44:39 AM , Rating: 2
OMG... I meant flashing lights for the def.

By Azethoth on 3/19/2013 9:54:59 AM , Rating: 5
No, we need noisemakers for the def.

By Dr. Kenneth Noisewater on 3/19/2013 10:10:05 AM , Rating: 2
We need old-school hip hop artists rapping for the def.

By MightyAA on 3/19/2013 11:49:58 AM , Rating: 2
Um... no. The deaf (like my daughter) have been watching out for cars, bikers, joggers, skateboard punks, etc. forever now (they have never been able to hear them).

The noise thing I also don't get. My commute to work goes right past a school for the blind every single day. They are pretty much taught to walk down the sidewalk and cross at intersections. Whether they hear or not, I'm driving and I see them...

RE: There is some point to the pushback
By Philippine Mango on 3/19/2013 11:15:24 AM , Rating: 2
That is total BS, my dad owns an electric car and in a quiet area, I can hear his car 50+ft away rolling up. The only people who need to be concerned with cars moving at less than 5mph are those who are right next to them and if you're right next to them, then you can hear their tires, but only if..... YOU'RE PAYING ATTENTION. If you get run over despite staying out of traffic, that is the drivers fault, if you get startled by the driver, thats YOUR fault.

I think this is the "anti startling law", a law to prevent people from being startled.

By FaaR on 3/19/2013 12:07:55 PM , Rating: 2
You won't necessarily hear a slow-moving vehicle's tires if there's other traffic noise around you, regardless of how much attention you're paying. That doesn't mean that noisemakers is the logical solution to the "problem", however.

By SublimeSimplicity on 3/19/2013 9:51:19 AM , Rating: 3
Motion sensors technology is what? 60 years old? Wouldn't it be safer to create a wearable motion sensor for the blind to alert them of anything moving towards them?

Are we going to require all bikes to have a baseball card in their spokes?

RE: Technology
By nglessner on 3/19/2013 10:47:29 AM , Rating: 1
Bikes are ~20lbs. Most cars are 10x that. Physics says it's more important to protect against collisions with cars.

I'll also go out on a limb here and add: Cyclists are far more aware of their surroundings than cars - it's just the way it is.

RE: Technology
By jRaskell on 3/19/2013 10:57:27 AM , Rating: 3
I'll also go out on a limb here and add: Cyclists are far more aware of their surroundings than cars - it's just the way it is.

That's a limb that's going to snap.

RE: Technology
By freedom4556 on 3/19/2013 11:55:51 AM , Rating: 3
Bikes are ~20lbs. Most cars are more like 175x that.

Fixed that for you.

RE: Technology
By Iketh on 3/19/2013 12:19:25 PM , Rating: 2
The person with the sensor would have to stand absolutely still to get an accurate reading...

RE: Technology
By SublimeSimplicity on 3/19/2013 12:46:55 PM , Rating: 3
True, I guess we'll have to wait for gyroscopes to be invented.

The horn?
By freedom4556 on 3/19/2013 12:02:59 PM , Rating: 2
Cars already have this, it's called the HORN , and they've had it since the 19th century! If you're really in danger of hitting a pedestrian, HONK ! That's what it's there for. If the horn won't stop the collision, this beeper won't either.

RE: The horn?
By FaaR on 3/19/2013 12:13:18 PM , Rating: 2
Cars also have something called BRAKES . Rather than honking your horn, try using them first if you're about to hit a pedestrian, or even think you might hit one.

Jesus christ, EVs might be a rist for blind people, but self-obsessed motorists like you is an even bigger danger to everybody...

RE: The horn?
By ClownPuncher on 3/19/2013 12:21:26 PM , Rating: 2
You get more points for running over blind people and babies.

RE: The horn?
By M'n'M on 3/19/2013 12:40:52 PM , Rating: 2
How much for pregnant blind people ?

RE: The horn?
By ClownPuncher on 3/19/2013 1:50:21 PM , Rating: 2
1.75x the point score of blind babies

RE: The horn?
By lyeoh on 3/20/2013 5:01:58 AM , Rating: 2
More if you can get them to spin before they hit the ground

RE: The horn?
By Skywalker123 on 3/20/2013 11:25:37 PM , Rating: 2
How many points for a retarded,blind,deaf, and dumb pregnant woman?

What does Obama want it to sound like?
By half_duplex on 3/19/2013 10:29:25 AM , Rating: 1
I agree these need noise makers as I was nearly run over just last week at work.

I do agree that this is just giving the government more oversight and say-so into how cars are made.

I'm pretty sure the automakers would do this on their own, and it would probably be a much better solution than what the fed will impose on them.... I can imagine a cool futuristic sound/white noise... but I'm guessing we get an imitation engine sound.

By Philippine Mango on 3/19/2013 11:11:53 AM , Rating: 3
were you actually almost run over or were you just startled? It sounds more like you were just startled because you weren't paying attention to your environment. These cars even moving at 2 mph make plenty of noise from their tires, IF YOU'RE PAYING ATTENTION. However if you WERE almost ran over, then you should be blaming the driver, not the lack of noise. Haven't you ever walked in a noisy parking lot and have been on the look out for reversing cars by checking their tail lights? You use your eyes because your ears are useless in this situation.

Lets think a bit
By CaedenV on 3/19/2013 10:31:47 AM , Rating: 2
As someone who was once an esteemed parking lot attendant I have to say that the quiet car thing is an issue for more than just blind people. I have been hit and almost hit by cars (silent or otherwise) several times. It is not so much an issue of the car being quiet or not, and has more to do with the fact that most people are oblivious to their surroundings. But, the fact is that noisy cars can be more easily avoided.

Rather than installing some sort of annoying backup siren, lets just have them make a variable amount of noise just like a gas car does. If you are 'on' but parked, then it makes a little noise. When you are driving in a parking lot situation then it makes more noise the more you press on the gas. Then when you start hitting higher speeds for main roads (lets just say 35mph+) then the noise can turn off.

Point is that the car making some sort of noise gives people no information about the behavior of the vehicle. Having a different noise for forward vs reverse, and having a variable volume gives people some information to work off of. Having less noise pollution is a GOOD thing, lets not ruin it by making EVs something that people resent. At the end of the day it is the driver who needs to pay more attention, not the pedestrian. Pedestrians just need enough noise to have fair warning as to whether or not the driver is a moron.

I am hoping my next car will be an EV, and if it makes annoying sounds then it does not take a rocket scientist to clip a speaker wire, or to wire it to a switch so that I can turn it on and off at will.

RE: Lets think a bit
By Integral9 on 3/19/2013 10:51:00 AM , Rating: 2
Oh man. Do you know how annoying it's going to be to sit in traffic on the "Hybrid Highway" (HOV Lanes) with all those hybrids making their alert sounds.

Regulating the wrong end...
By MTEK on 3/19/2013 4:19:46 PM , Rating: 3
Mandate protective outerwear for the blind while walking in the vicinity of motor vehicles. For example: cover them head-to-toe in wearable pyrotechnic airbags. Any impact with sufficient force would activate the safety mechanism -- producing an effect similar to applying heat to a popcorn kernel.

I also have an idea combining a wheelchair and an ejection seat -- for those who just can't GTFO of harms way fast enough.

By foxalopex on 3/19/2013 2:26:19 PM , Rating: 2
Okay, I own a Chevy Volt which I have to admit is pretty quiet. GM has on the Volt provided a pedestrian horn which basically gives a nice gentle honk instead of the regular alarming car honk which would likely make you jump. I have in the 4 months I've owned the car never used that horn except for trying it out for fun.

I think this law is going in the wrong direction here. I mean when was the last time you saw someone dive out of the way of an oncoming car? Most accidents are from either the driver not paying attention / rushing or pedestrians not paying attention at all. Both can be at fault here. As a cyclist too I've said the general rule is use your eyes! If the driver isn't looking at you (making eye contact), they'll probably run you over if you try crossing a car's path.

Rear backup Ultrasonic sensors might be a good idea for EV's backing up for blind spots that are hard to see (I have a set on my volt.) but aside from that I don't think this is an issue at all.

By on 3/19/2013 3:31:47 PM , Rating: 2
I think part of the reason people buy EVs is because they're so quiet. I rather like that. This legislation was coming, though, especially in light of the NHSTA data.

Bottom line...
By Cape Consultant on 3/20/2013 12:16:58 AM , Rating: 2
People need to PAY ATTENTION both drivers and walkers of all types. Just more noise pollution that will further pollute our soundscape. I really like the idea of a SOFT horn. Now THAT is a good idea. Too simple for the politicians.

Mainly because some bureaucrat thought it was good idea.

Remember in Weeds when the dealer bought SEVEN Prius's because they were so quiet and could sneak up on people?

Problem? Opportunity!
By mickbyb on 3/20/2013 1:10:10 AM , Rating: 2
Now if the noisemaker sounded like a TIE fighter, this would be the coolest thing to happen to the automotive industry since the removable ash tray.

By nglessner on 3/19/13, Rating: -1
RE: Needed
By othercents on 3/19/13, Rating: 0
RE: Needed
By nglessner on 3/19/2013 10:24:28 AM , Rating: 2
Running (and worse, biking) with headphones isn't safe regardless of how much noise these EV's are going to make. I wouldn't consider people who wear headphones the 'target audience' for this feature.

RE: Needed
By CharonPDX on 3/19/2013 11:36:12 AM , Rating: 2
And in a quiet neighborhood, a hybrid or electric car is *NOT* "silent". They make a very distinctive electric "whine" that I can hear just fine two blocks away, the same distance as a gas car. It's just a different sound that takes getting used to.

If we add fake sounds on top of that, people won't get used to the real noise they make, perpetuating the need for fake sounds!

The only time I can't hear an electrically-powered car is when it's already noisy due to lots of other traffic. And when there is lots of traffic, I'm careful already.

But I fully agree, running/biking with headphones on is stupid. I understand that the main supposed driver behind this is for the blind, but I know plenty of people who complain about it who aren't blind - they just jog/bike/etc with headphones on. If you're pumping loud noise into your ears, you don't get to complain about the noise (or lack thereof) of the world around you.

RE: Needed
By chick0n on 3/19/13, Rating: -1
RE: Needed
By Flunk on 3/19/2013 10:51:36 AM , Rating: 2
Blind people can't look.

RE: Needed
By FaaR on 3/19/2013 12:02:52 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah they can't look, so what are they doing out and about in traffic? Seriously.

It's understandable they don't want to be cooped up indoors all their lives, but this is a seeing person's world. It's never going to be safe for blind people, warning noise on EVs or not.

Get an eye-dog, or the companion of a person with working vision. Gods know I wouldn't be stumbling around on my own in or even near traffic if I was blind. It's common sense.

RE: Needed
By Reclaimer77 on 3/19/2013 1:04:43 PM , Rating: 2
Who needs common sense? Obama will take care of everyone, relax. /sarcasm

RE: Needed
By Brandon Hill on 3/19/2013 10:37:09 AM , Rating: 1
RE: Needed
By Flunk on 3/19/2013 10:50:58 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, but volume-wise there isn't any reason to require sound louder than a creeping Honda Civic (which is not very load). Hugely loud and annoying sounds are going completely overboard.

RE: Needed
By FITCamaro on 3/19/2013 11:08:11 AM , Rating: 2
So it's the car's fault you weren't looking where you were going...

And blind people don't just suddenly jump out in front of cars. It's the driver's job to watch for people at cross walks.

RE: Needed
By nglessner on 3/19/2013 11:19:44 AM , Rating: 2
Clearly, you didn't read my post. I was running on the left side of the road (you know, where cars aren't supposed to be). A Prius came up behind me, driving in the middle of the road and got close enough that if I stuck my arm out I could have touched it. Also, I didn't explicitly state this in my original post, but I was not wearing headphones and I never do while on a road.

RE: Needed
By Wererat on 3/19/2013 11:46:00 AM , Rating: 2
Before offering opinions, people should read the actual proposed rule:

It's long, and contains lots of research, but I found it interesting that the scenario you cite is *not* a factor in accidents. EVs who turned or backed up quietly were possibly risky; passing by quietly were not.

See also p.66; the noise differential is 7.7db at 10mph, 3.5db at 20, 2.0db at 30. Really, we needed a noisemaker for this?

Lastly, "The agency selected an ambient of 55 A-weighted dB to develop the minimum sound level specifications The agency choose an ambient sound pressure level of 55 A-weighted dB because that is a level representative of a moderate suburban ambient where pedestrians would be expected to be able to detect vehicles based on hearing alone." (p.111)

The upshot is that, typical for government, nobody thought "let's write the requirement to be ambient + Xdb" so that anyone might actually hear the extra noise, but instead the writers came to a static assumption that we all live in 55db of static. The upshot:
1. In noisy cities, this noise will not help anyone;
2. In quieter areas, the noise will be highly annoying; and
3. As/if we move to a quieter society (perhaps by adopting hybrids/EVs) the threshhold noise in the regulation is fixed; so we *can't* get quiet!

Stupid law, bad regulation, and of course they're ignoring all comments from manufacturers and anti-noise advocates.

RE: Needed
By Celebrochan on 3/19/2013 4:47:28 PM , Rating: 2
Even the idea of cars that make noise just to make noise reminds me of "The Marching Morons"

“We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone.” -- Steve Jobs
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