Carmakers agree to make electric cars noisier

2011_nissan_leaf.top.jpg by Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Automakers and advocates for the blind have agreed on a plan to address an unintended problem caused by electric and hybrid cars: They endanger sight-impaired and distracted pedestrians because they make no noise when running on electric power.

The groups joined together to present Congress with a proposal for minimum noise levels that future electric cars would have to make.

Sometimes even sighted pedestrians can be unaware of the cars' approach.

"As a person who walks my dog in Virginia, where there are no sidewalks, I've been startled by hybrid cars, too," said Gloria Bergquist, vice president of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

A study done last year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that hybrid cars tend to hit pedestrians more often than other cars in situations where the approaching car cannot be seen.

The AAM, along with the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the American Council for the Blind and the National Federation for the Blind, presented Congress with suggested language that could become part of the Motor Safety Act of 2010, a bill now moving through Congress that would create a host of new auto safety rules.

The proposed language would have NHTSA create a new safety standard for electrically powered cars involving some sort of minimum sound required when operating at low speeds. At higher speeds, wind and tire noise are typically enough to make the car detectable.

The sound couldn't be just anything. For instance, vehicle owners would not be able to "customize" the sound of their car the same way they can download ringtones for cell phones. That's specifically prohibited in the proposed rule.

Instead, car manufacturers would provide an approved sound or set of sounds for a given make and model of car.

It would be up to NHTSA to set the minimum noise level a vehicle would have to make at givens speeds and to determine what sort of sounds would be allowed. The sounds would need to communicate something about the car's speed and acceleration, just as the sound of a rumbling gasoline engine does. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Find Your Next Car
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,827.75 12.81 0.07%
Nasdaq 4,787.32 29.07 0.61%
S&P 500 2,072.83 5.80 0.28%
Treasuries 2.23 -0.03 -1.15%
Data as of 7:18am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Kinder Morgan Inc 42.32 0.00 0.00%
Apple Inc 119.00 0.00 0.00%
Facebook Inc 77.62 0.00 0.00%
Pfizer Inc 31.10 0.00 0.00%
Bank of America Corp... 17.11 0.00 0.00%
Data as of Nov 26

Sections

At malls and department stores across America, the faithful are lining up and camping out for deals. More

At malls and department stores across America, the faithful are lining up and camping out for deals. More

Two pilots encountered drones while flying over college football games and another pilot saw one while flying over the Hollywood sign. More

Natalie's Cakes and More has raised $84,000 through GoFundMe after protests trash store. More

Retailers are promising big deals this Black Friday, but are the savings actually worth the shopping mayhem? Test your deal-sniffing skills. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.