Feds May Be Thinking Twice About Hybrid And EV Pedestrian Warning Noise Law

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) appears to be mulling whether to abandon the law requiring sound to emit from electric and hybrid to warn nearby pedestrians.

The consideration was included in NHTSA’s 2018 budget documents presented to Congress emphasizing deregulation for a number of safety rules. That includes rear-view and backup cameras in cars, electronic-stability control in heavy trucks, and a rule allowing dealers to install switches that could deactivate airbags.

It’s not clear whether rules enacted last year requiring noise coming from hybrid and electric vehicles will be altered. NHTSA didn’t say whether the rules will be repealed or if certain sections of the policies would be modified.

The Trump administration has made a priority out of cleaning up rules that it considers to stand in the way of the U.S. being economically competitive.

Current rules require that new hybrid and electric cars with four wheels and a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less have to give off sounds when going forward or reverse at speeds up to 19 miles per hour.

That rule goes back to a congressional mandate in 2010 with concern over hybrids and EVs being silent and presenting a health hazard to blind people attempting to cross a street.

It took years for the rules to be finalized in December. They were scheduled to take effect in February but were tabled until September by the new administration.

NHTSA is proposing that automakers have until Sept. 1, 2019 to add sound warning devices to hybrids and EVs. However, half of these new vehicles should be in compliance one year before the deadline, NHTSA said.

The agency said that the new noise rules will help prevent 2,400 pedestrian injuries a year. The new sound alert systems would add about $130 per hybrid and $55 per EV to add, NHTSA said.

Auto industry groups representing makers such as Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and Volkswagen, have petitioned NHTSA for more flexibility on the vehicle safety rules that are under consideration.

NHTSA said it’s open to being flexible in its budget recommendations.

SEE ALSO:  Are Electric Cars Really Going to Quell Traffic Noise?

Automakers are asking the federal agency to take a realistic approach to what hybrid and vehicles already have in operation – and other technologies adding enhanced safety.

In 2014, Tesla and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers jointly filed a petition asking NHTSA to revise some of the rules. One of the suggestions encouraged the agency to update the rear-visibility standard, allowing cameras to fulfill the role played by rear-view and side mirrors.


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