Automakers Complain EV "Noisemakers" for the Blind Are Too Loud
March 19, 2013 9:22 AM
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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.
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3/19/2013 9:41:44 AM
I don't think the anyone thinks they are not needed, however the issue is how much noise is required to make it safe without waking up the neighborhood at 5am in the morning as I leave for work. I believe a higher pitch sound and lower decibels is better than a lower pitch sound that might get drowned out by other things happening (IE. running with headphones on).
3/19/2013 10:24:28 AM
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.
3/19/2013 11:36:12 AM
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
. 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.
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