NHTSA To Mandate EV Soundtrack For Pedestrians


Many people consider the quiet nature of electric vehicles is a boon, but there are others who are concerned that these silent cars could lead to an increase in pedestrian accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is in the latter group, and the NHTSA has announced a proposal to include warning sounds on EVs going 18 mph or less.

If you’ve been following the EV saga here in America, you probably knew that this was an inevitability. Groups that represent blind Americans, the elderly, and traffic safety advocates have all been pushing for such legislation ever since hybrids like the Toyota Prius hit the streets. But with electric cars becoming increasingly commonplace, the NHTSA has decided that now is time to take action.

Some cars, like 2012 and up Toyota Prius hybrids, already have sound emitters, though drivers can turn them on and off at will. Ford has even asked fans what they think its Focus Electric vehicle should sound like.

The NHTSA proposal allows some flexibility in terms of what sound is used, and the system is expected to add just $30 per vehicle. The NHTSA estimates this will help prevent around 2,800 injuries, and 35 deaths, each year. The system will turn on and off automatically, and frankly, we’re interested to see what sorts of sounds automakers come up with. If supercar sounds aren’t an option though, and we’ll be disappointed.

Source: NHTSA

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • Aaron

    I go with that pizza delivery electric moped sound. That was great.

  • Lee

    I am willing to bet a big portion of the problem is bikers and pedestrians with headphones or their attention focused on smart phones. It might make more sense to generate static on nearby personal electronics than creating more noise pollution. Besides, do we really want to stop culling the oblivious from our genepool. 😉

  • Don Francis

    Prevent 35 deaths per year. So electric vehicles have been running down pedestrians….where is this data coming from. Let’s have a level playing field that any vehicle quieter than a specific decibel level will have to be equipped with the noise markers.

    • DaveD

      Hey Don! How are you?

      And of course, you’re totally right that this should be for ANY car below a certain decibel threshold, otherwise, it’s just an anti-EV law.

  • Sean

    so… when your new euro 5 car turns its engine off as you put your foot on the break, it makes your normal combustion engine just as quiet.
    or a cyclist.
    or any other form of transport that doesn’t rape the ears of anyone in the vicinity.
    New plan…. criminalise stupidity. Don’t Jaywalk, and you wont have a . This is just another way to make electric cars undesirable.

    • You do realize that jaywalking is against the law, right? #ironic

  • Aaron

    what’s next no sad music on the radio. This could lead to suicide? How many death could this “cause”. Can we leave anything up to the car companies on new car design.

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