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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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By nglessner on 3/19/2013 9:36:14 AM , Rating: -1
Some people probably think that this is unnecessary... I thought so too until last weekend. I was running through a quiet neighborhood early Saturday morning and a Prius creeped up on me - scared the crap out of me. I always run on the left side of the road (like you're supposed to) so that I can see oncoming traffic, but it just so happened that there was a parked car on the right side of the road, causing the Prius to come within arms length. Those things are pretty damn stealthy if they're on electric only. Definitely a safety issue.

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"

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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