On Monday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a rule that would require electric vehicles to be noisier.
Apparently what 99% of the populace would probably consider to be one of the primary benefits of electric vehicles is considered a dangerous condition by the Feds. According to NHTSA the reason the rule is necessary is because some studies have shown that during “low-speed maneuvers” an electric vehicle is 1.38 more times likely than a normal combustion engine to be involved in a collision with a pedestrian and 1.33 times more likely to be involved in a collision with a cyclist. Further, if the rule is implemented, NHTSA claims that it will result in 2,800 fewer injuries (not each year mind-you) over the lifetime of a model year of vehicle. (By contrast, bicycles (equally quiet) cause 1,000 injuries per year in New York City alone.)
One would think that electric vehicle manufacturers would be lining up to oppose the rules but that isn’t necessarily the case. A whole EV “drive tone” market has popped up overnight and you can listen to samples of some of them by Googling “electric vehicle tones”. You can listen to some EV tones being considered by Ford here. Personally, I’m hoping for cars with a light saber-like sound.
The press release, notice of proposed rulemaking and environmental assessment can be accessed here. The public has 60 days to submit comments on the proposed rule. Comments can be submitted online at: http://www.regulations.gov or by mail to: Docket Management Facility, M-30, U.S. Department of Transportation, West Building, Ground Floor, Rm W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. 20590.