Questioning NHTSA’s ‘Noisy Electric Cars’ Rule

electric car

by Sofie E. Miller, Senior Policy Analyst

July 09, 2013

Download the article

Early this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a proposed rule that would require hybrid and electric vehicles to make a sound while being operated at speeds slower than 18 miles per hour. Because they use an electric motor, hybrid and electric vehicles generate less noise than conventional vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs), and legislators and regulators alike are concerned that pedestrians could be injured by a vehicle that they can’t hear coming. Under the 2010 Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, NHTSA must conduct a safety standard rulemaking to establish an “alert sound” for hybrid and electric vehicles. The act requires that the noise made by a hybrid or electric vehicle could allow a pedestrian, especially a sightimpaired pedestrian, to identify the direction of the vehicle. NHTSA is also operating under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which requires NHTSA safety standards to “be performance-oriented, practicable, and objective, and meet the need for safety. In addition, in developing and issuing a standard, NHTSA must consider whether the standard is reasonable, practicable, and appropriate for each type of motor vehicle covered by the standard.”

Continue reading