Starting in 2020, electric cars won’t be entirely silent. The United States government will mandate (barring any unforeseen deregulation) that every electric car and hybrid vehicle must emit a sound below 19 mph. Ford plans to comply with the regulation, but it does want an exemption for its police cars.

The Verge reported Ford asked for an exception to the rule in 2015 for police vehicles. Thus, Ford police vehicles would have an off switch of sorts to keep the cars silent at all speeds. The automaker made the request to the National Highway and Traffic Administration (NHTSA) in 2015 and the government said it would respond to the inquiry “regarding the legality of equipping certain vehicles used for security purposes with a means of turning off the required pedestrian alert sound.”

Proposed in 2010, the noise rule is meant to protect sight-impaired pedestrians from hybrid and electric cars. Groups have argued it’s nearly impossible to hear an electric car or hybrid operating in an EV mode approaching. Regulators decided on the 19 mph threshold and declared affected vehicles make enough tire and wind noise to announce their approach.

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According to the report, the NHTSA never actually answered Ford’s question and its comment was “inadvertently left in” documents. Ford also requested the full text be redacted over confidential information and remains undisclosed until a review process is completed.

The NHTSA believes the noise regulation will prevent 2,400 injuries involving pedestrians per year, but a final ruling on Ford’s police-cruise question could complicate things. If Ford is granted the ability for an off switch, it could leave many decommissioned police vehicles on the market that do not comply with federal regulations.

[Source: The Verge]