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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Lets think a bit
3/19/2013 10:31:47 AM
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
3/19/2013 10:51:00 AM
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.
"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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