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 11:46:00 AM
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.
3/19/2013 4:47:28 PM
Even the idea of cars that make noise just to make noise reminds me of "The Marching Morons"
"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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