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U.S. DOT Suggests Artificial Car Noises for Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

By Alpert Schreyer on January 18, 2013

Electric and hybrid vehicles are known for their fuel efficiency and cost-saving nature. A side effect, however, is that these vehicles can be strangely quiet, especially while driving at slow speeds. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is proposing that these vehicles meet minimum sound requirements for the safety of pedestrians.

Since these vehicles do not use their gas or diesel powered engines at low speeds, they are much quieter and lack the distinctive noise of a car’s engine. Pedestrians attempting to cross the street may be unaware of an approaching electric or hybrid vehicle until it is too late, leading to a serious collision. Especially at risk are visually-impaired pedestrians, who rely heavily on the sound of vehicles to understand nearby dangers.

In order to keep pedestrians safe, the U.S. DOT has proposed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141 to require all of these vehicles to meet a minimum sound requirement so pedestrians can detect their presence, location, and direction while travelling slower than 18 miles per hour. In order to do so, vehicles would use speakers to create artificial noise that can be heard in a wide variety of environments. While automakers could choose what sounds to use, they would need to be the same for all vehicles within a make or model.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that there are 2,800 collisions between electric or hybrid vehicles and pedestrians or bicyclists every year due to lack of vehicle noise.

Whatever the cause of the accident, injured pedestrians have the right to seek compensation for their losses when they have been caused by another party’s dangerous actions. At Alpert Schreyer, our Maryland pedestrian accident lawyers are dedicated to the recovery and wellbeing of injured victims. To learn more about how we can aid you, call (844) 632-7274.

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