Electric cars offer a lot of advantages to some drivers thanks to their instant torque delivery, cheaper insurance, and much less noise while on the road. However, that last benefit can be a curse to some people. For the blind or those not paying full attention, being unable to hear an oncoming car could be a serious danger. The government has a thorny history of trying to make EVs louder, but now NHTSA has finally decided to codify a solution in November.
“Our National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will soon issue a final rule on sound requirements for electric and hybrid vehicles so people who are visually impaired can hear them coming,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, according to The Detroit News. The requirement has been a very long time coming, though. The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2008 was supposed to fix things, but it was followed by several other measures to do the same thing. None of them have been successful yet.
Under NHTSA’s proposal, EVs and hybrids need to emit a sound when traveling below 18 miles per hour. “They are too quiet now,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said, according to The Detroit News. “We will be able to hear them at intersections from now on.” Each automaker would be free to choose its own noise, though. The volume would just need to change based on speed and continue to have a tone while idling. Some companies have pushed back against the rule and claimed that the silence is part of the reason some people opt for EVs.
Earlier in 2015, NHTSA delayed the date for the final ruling until the end of the year. That meant that automakers wouldn’t need to comply until 2018. The National Federation of the Blind has been lobbying to finally get the proposal passed, though.