Global Automakers Say Electric Vehicle Pedestrian Alerts Might be Unnecessarily Noisy


Who’d of thunk that a simple noise-making system that alerts unsuspecting pedestrians would come under scrutiny?

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Well, that seems to be the case as the Association of Global Automakers is urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) to reconsider its proposed rule of adding sound to hybrid and plug-in vehicles.

The Association of Global Automakers isn’t asking the NHTSA to exclude the noise-making requirement.  Rather, the Association is urging the NHTSA to decided on a noise level that’s not excessively loud or unnecessarily noisy.

Michael Cammisa, director of safety for Global Automakers, stated:

“Striking a balance is important. While we support the intent of the regulation to assist pedestrians, we have concerns that the current proposal may lead to alert sounds that are excessively and unnecessarily noisy to others inside and outside of the vehicle.  As hybrid and electric cars have become more widespread, some of our members have already added noise alerts to these vehicles.  We look forward to continuing to work with NHTSA and other stakeholders to improve these requirements before they are finalized.”

Back in 2010, Global Automakers, the National Federation of the Blind, the American Council of the Blind and several auto industry groups teamed up with the NHTSA to establish the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act.  It’s under this act that the noise-making proposal exists.  The type of noise and volume or level have not been finalized.

The Association of Global Automakers represents vehicle manufacturers, original equipment suppliers and other automotive associations.

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8 Comments on "Global Automakers Say Electric Vehicle Pedestrian Alerts Might be Unnecessarily Noisy"

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Certain ICEs have become relatively quiet. I think they should enforce a certain decibel level on everybody and then watch the legislation go away all together.

A clarification is needed. The proposal is for passive alert systems that automatically activate below certain speed and hopefully turn off when the vehicle is stationary. The Volt has an active system that requires the driver to push a button to produce the noise (aka the burble).

Last time I read it, the proposal mandated noise when stationary. I believe that is part of why there is objection. Personally do not want… and agree with those who say it should either apply to all cars, gas & electric, or none.

I agree – if they place this same decibel requirement on ALL vehicles whether they are hybrid, Ev, or gas powered – I think we’ll get quite an uproar.

The backup beeps on vehicles are generally far too noisy, and I expect the same will be true for the pedestrian noise unless we fight it.

Force all pedestrians to carry echo-locating devices! LOL

Yesterday, I was out riding my electric assist bicycle. Leaving the parking lot of a local restaurant, I stopped at the road entrance to wait for the road traffic to clear. The minivan, parked in the lot behind me, couldn’t hear my electric bike, of course. But just as importantly, I couldn’t here the well muffled ICE either. I saw the van backing up, in my rear view mirror, and turned and shouted at the driver, who stopped. I suppose we could put noise makers on every vehicle, but the din would be maddening. Better if operators of all vehicles keep their eyes open.

The whole idea of artificial noise is well intended and stupid. Pay attention when driving, walking, biking, whatever…problem solved.

One of the virtues of EVs and their electric-drive hybrid cousins is that they are quite! Noise pollution is a major problem, and growing. EVs go a long towards reducing transportation noise, benefiting both the driver and the public in general. Drivers and the public are increasingly plugged-into media and phones and distracted by the task at hand and from their surroundings. This is the problem we should be focusing on and solving. The electrification of transportation has enough vested distractors without burdening EV manufactures and owners with the cost of add-on noise makers.