Quiet Car Rule: New EVs Must Emit Warning Sounds In US By 2019

Electric Cars

NOV 14 2016 BY JAY COLE 87

Plug-In and hybrid vehicles mandated to have audible proximity warning signals from September 2019

Plug-In and hybrid vehicles mandated to have audible proximity warning signals from September 2019

Beginning on new vehicle purchases made after September 1st, 2019 in the US, all electric vehicles and hybrids will be legally required to emit a warning noise whenever travelling under 18.6 miles per hour (30 km/h).

eVADER audible pedestrian alert system in Nissan LEAF

eVADER audible pedestrian alert system in Nissan LEAF

Such is the verdict of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), who has finally put the finishes touches on the long-anticipated safety measure to protect pedestrians from injury.

(Full PDF on the change can be found here).

“We all depend on our senses to alert us to possible danger,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “With more, quieter hybrid and electrical cars on the road, the ability for all pedestrians to hear as well as see the cars becomes an important factor of reducing the risk of possible crashes and improving safety.”

Congress originally passed the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act in 2010, with final approvals set for 2014 – which then got repeatedly delayed…until today.

The current mandate now gives OEMs almost 3 years to install waterproof warning systems on all their EV offerings sold in the US (the initial proposal was set to only to give automakers 18 months worth of lead time).

The safety agency says the 18.6 mph cap is in place because at higher speeds the sound alert is not required due to other factors, such as tire and wind noise, providing adequate audible warnings to pedestrians.

“This is a common-sense tool to help pedestrians—especially folks who are blind or have low vision—make their way safely,” said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind. “With pedestrian fatalities on the rise, it is vitally important we take every action to protect the most vulnerable road users.”

The NHSTA expects the measure will help prevent “about 2,400 pedestrian injuries each year once all hybrids in the fleet are properly equipped.”

Nissan Removed The Ability To Disable The Pedestrian Warning Sound in 2012 In Anticipation Of This Upcoming Ruling

Nissan removed the ability to disable the pedestrian warning sound in 2012 in anticipation of a 2014 ruling (that never came until now)

It is interesting to note that NHSTA studies indicate low speed accidents are 18% more likely in hybrid/electric vehicles than traditional autos, but that the addition of a warning sound is not likely to decrease actual pedestrian fatalities, as historical data shows that more fatal accidents occur with traditional petrol vehicles than plug-ins and hybrids.

“A majority of pedestrian fatalities occur when the vehicle involved in the collision is not travelling at a low speed. Overall, 67 percent of the pedestrian fatalities involving HVs or EVs and with known speed limits occurred at a speed limit above 35 mph.”

The goal of this rule is to prevent injuries to pedestrians that result from pedestrians being unable to hear nearby hybrid and electric vehicles operating at low speeds. At speeds of 35 mph and above, at which a majority of fatal crashes involving pedestrians occur, it is very unlikely that lack of sound is the cause as the sound levels produced by hybrid and electric vehicles at those speeds are the same as the sound levels produced by ICE vehicles.

Establishing minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles operating at speeds up to 30 km/h is expected to prevent injury crashes but not necessarily have an impact on those crashes involving pedestrian fatalities, based on existing data.

…the rate of pedestrian fatalities per registered vehicle for HVs and EVs is not larger (and is in fact smaller) than that for ICE vehicles. Using 2008 data, the fatality rate for pedestrians in crashes with HVs and EVs is 0.85 fatalities per 100,000 registered vehicles, and the corresponding rate for ICE vehicles is 1.57 per 100,000 vehicles. “

Because many OEMs are already selling their EVs in regions and countries that require electric vehicle warning sounds at speed, many plug-in vehicles on the US market (such as the Nissan LEAF and Kia Soul EV) are already sold with active audible warning systems.

NHTSA, hat tip to Dr. T!

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87 Comments on "Quiet Car Rule: New EVs Must Emit Warning Sounds In US By 2019"

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More regulatory added cost with no benefit.

Agreed. If I buy a Tesla Model 3 by then, I will disable this noisy piece of junk, a dying swan song of the Obama regime, along with a half million other owners. Someone will probably sell a disable kit with simple tools and instructions on the Internet for $19.95.

When I was a kid, the Nanny state under Carter forced my family to have a seat belt warning noise until you buckled up. The dealership showed you the underseat wire to disable it, just a minute after you bought the car. and almost all the buyers the buyers did this. Carter’s nanny state finally got rid of it. Maybe Trump will get rid of this, if not, Tesla cars should blare out Obama’s voice promising: “IF you like your doctor, you can keep it!” 🙂

It looks guys like you have never driven even a conventional hybrid in EV mode. Getting out of the garage and in parking lots pedestrians don’t hear you coming. In my experience not even with Toyota’s current warning sound. I just hope the ruling pick the right sounds to really alert pedestrians, cyclists and the blind.

New cars like Tesla already warn the driver and auto break as the radar and sonar will pickup and object around the car. So sound is a worthless stupid old fashioned idea even before the law will request this.

Amazing that you made this political. You only mentioned Obama and Carter. Shouldn’t you fit Bill Clinton in there somewhere? Didn’t he do something awful to you like how Carter made your family wear seatbelts as a kid so you wouldn’t die?

You do realize that the nanny state still requires in every car today to have a dash warning light and warning noise when the driver and passenger don’t have their seatbelts on? It’s been that way for a while. Do you still bother to disable it.

Why wouldn’t you want to wear your seatbelt anyway? Have you ever been in a collision over 30 mph. Even with the seatbelt it is brutal. Without it you most likely die.

I hear that FL and SD don’t require child seats. So you can move there away from the nanny state and put your kid on your lap as you drive and no President not even President Trump can tell you that you were stupid for doing it even after you child flies through the windshield and dies. Sucks for you kid though.

Apparently, President Carter kicked his dog, and President Obama took his lollipop.

95% compliance with seat belt laws in Canada. But noooo! You jerks ruined it for the rest of us by disabling the safety measures and exercising your God given rights to be impaled on the steering wheel, thrown into the front windshield or ejected from the car. Thanks to you doofusses I’m now surrounded by 6 lbs of explosives and a whack of Takata recall notices. Thanks a bunch.

No offense! I’ve always wanted to get that off my chest!

Wow Michael, I thought Canadians were supposed to be nice. That really hurt my feelings. If you need me I’ll be in my safe place.

Sorry. I wanted to edit out the jerks and doofusses part but couldn’t

That’s going to be my excuse now when I use insulting language. 😉

I always buckle up but hate buzzers. If you like buzzers and air bags, fine, you can pay for them as options.

I never caused anyone to have to buy seat belts, because my mom and dad disabled an annoying buzzer. The accursed thing went off if you simply put a grocery bag in the seat!

I guess you don’t get it, so I will use small words: The car is my property. I bought it with the sweat of my brow. It is not the government’s property. They are parasites whose only existence is to tax me, by stealing my money and then trying to force me to live by THEIR RULES, which by the way, they violate themselves (Example: Did Congress or Obama have to use Obamacare? Of course not. They don’t eat their own dog food).

Of course Congress doesn’t need to use ObamaCare, because they can use the standard Federal employee health care plan.


In fact, ObamaCare in many ways offers the same benefits that federal employees have, to private citizens. How horrible that the Obama administration tried very hard to offer the same health care which Congress has to those who have no health care coverage! /snark


Hey Whitehead,

You should absolutely take your small words and your personal property (your car), and simply drive only on your own roads on your own private property. You are right, nobody can tell you to wear your seatbelt. I won’t encourage you to drive fast or slow, either… your choice.

The rest of us that don’t mind paying taxes do respectfully ask you to stay off all public roads, freeways, and bridges, however. I am sure you understand, and will willingly comply.


Actually it isn’t just about you. If everybody decided to not wear seat belts then auto insurance would skyrocket for everyone.

The insurance companies aren’t in the game to help people. If every fender bender resulted in hundreds of thousands in medical bills and wrongful death suits then our premiums and deductibles would be enormous.

Hi Jim
This is definitely the right way to see it. What surprises me is the fact, that most of your ” America the Land of the Free” fellows apparently enjoy to be nannied by the state and juiced from taxes to the max.

Nevertheless I buckle up always and did it even already before it became law in my country. But of course I disabled the buzzer because this is solely my private decision.

But he warning sound for pedestrians is quite different to be judged, because here is a third person involved namely the pedestrian. So it is good thing.

Back when I was driving a Prius there were MANY times when I would hum up to an intersection to have a pedestrian step right in front of me, usually because they didn’t hear the car. It got to the point I could predict when somebody was going to do this. Once the car got older tapping the brakes would cause a slight squeal that usually was pretty good at preventing death.
I wanted to wire in an electric bell so I could ring it in these situations because tapping the horn usually is overkill and I’m not into causing cardiac arrest. My dad’s “company car” had a siren that was wired into the horn button in that way and it was really convenient to be able to just “blip” it to get someone’s attention.

Dude, take a stress tab and chill out. Every new car is equipped to emit a warning noise if the driver or front-seat passenger doesn’t buckle his seat belt, and the black helicopters haven’t abducted us all.

Some safety regulations actually do save lives. This one will, too. Real lives, not just those existing only in your conspiracy theory fantasies.

Some more regulations to save real lives.

1) Mandatory noise maker on bicycles
2) ban all bicycles, motorcycles, cars
3) ban running, or even stepping out of the house

List is endless. At some point, you have to take some risks instead of having the nanny state run your life.

I question this entire 18% figure, and it would not change fatality so this would not save any life. What car did they use for 18%? I suspect it’d be just as bad if they used high end quiet luxury cars or kill-engine-at-stop gas cars. Targeting EV and not gas cars or bicycles is ridiculous nonsense.

Yeah we should remove all speed limits and allow drunk driving as well, f the nanny state!

Wow, why don’t you tell us how you really feel.

Hey, Whitehead. You do realize that seatbelt warning sounds managed to last from the Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, another Bush, and Obama. Or has it been that long since you purchased another car? And why didn’t you instead complain about the regs that require you to have a seatbelt, airbag, emission controls and crash protection? I mean, if you’re going after regulations, you should just throw them all in the pot of awfulness, right?

Wouldn’t preventing texting and driving have a much larger role in reducing pedestrian accidents?

I guess the i8 will need to pump the artificial exhaust sounds both inside and out now.

Another Nanny law.

I’ll help out more by turning up my loud profane music so they can hear me coming.

Those Leaf drivers are a crazy bunch, what with their hip hop and naughty lyrics!

This is good and does not require much to have on any vehicle. I have a Volt and where I used to live people on bicycles seem to go everywhere on the road. However when they hear a gas vehicle they usually get to the side. When driving the Volt they do not hear and when honked at they really get irate an sometimes loose their cool and start flipping at you

Don’t worry; cyclist won’t change their behavior because of a stupid whining sound.
This is all BS.
First hand, some ICE cars are pretty much silent when they are driven kindly.
But people get kill or injured by a lot of very noisy vehicle, motorbike, truck, train, or whatever.
Speeding or distracted driver is the culprit, the noise of the vehicle don’t help anything.
The NHTS even admit that it won’t change fatality and that ICE engine have twice the rate of collision with pedestrian.
It’s like saying, “It won’t help anyone, but will do it anyway”

Let’s hope that car makers have the cars emit pleasing noises. Last thing I want to hear are cars going “beep beep beep” as they drive by my house.

Honestly this is a good move. I see most of you are complaining so far. I may not particularly like the sound they chose for my Leaf, but at least I haven’t accidentally run over any old grannies at the shopping mall!

I disagree completely.

On the other hand I had a couple of near miss because of the A pillar that blind pedestrian stepping in the lane?

This stupid sound has never, ever been notice by pedestrian anyway, but it annoys me a lot.

It would be your decision to run over a grandma. You wait and then continue to drive

Whether I’m driving my ICE or my EV, the incidents of pedestrians nearly walking into my car were not any more frequent in one versus the other.

It issue is not the lack of sound. Their hypothesis is an unproven assumption.

Yeah. 18% more low speed collisions is hardly a huge enough difference for sudden concern where before there was none.

I could see a case where there were 10 times as many or even 2 times as many low speed incidents. But 1.18 times as many?

You people are all surprisingly cool with this.

I was really looking forward to my quiet cities. 🙁

A pedestrian horn would be better.

That’s what I was talking about with my “bicycle bell”, just a non-cardiac-arrest inducing sound that could be “dinged” when you want to let a pedestrian know you’re about to hamburger their legs.

So then pedestrians should not be allowed to wear ear buds, nor stare blankly at screens, their focus is elsewhere, while walking if there is traffic nearby.

You may feeeeel this way, but admittedly an unsuspecting bystandard, such as one running in a half marathon, may be unwittingly struck by a silent vehicle gliding along; without any fault of his own.

Had that same pedestrian been wearing headphones, he would then be knowingly endangering himself by impairing one of his own senses, and therefore inherently more alert to his surroundings.

I have no problem with the concept of alerting people that they may get run over.

But I don’t understand why EV’s and hybrids are singled out. Because there are a ton of very quiet luxury ICE cars out there now that you wouldn’t be able to hear above ambient background noise.

Shouldn’t the standard be that cars must emit a certain amount of noise, regardless of drivetrain?

Many more now with stop-and-go engines. Although in fairness, it is pretty startling when they restart.

My ELR has a pedestrian horn that can be selectively activated

What does it sound like? I was wanting a bell of some kind.

What’s an ELR?

The Cadillac ELR is a recently discontinued PHEV from GM. It used a Voltec drivetrain, like the Chevy Volt.


Thanks. Cadillac isn’t sold in my country, so haven’t heard about it.

A V8 sound will be awesome or Harley Davison engine, what a genios, I guess Consumer reports suggested this changes.

“It is interesting to note that NHSTA studies indicate low speed accidents are 18% more likely in hybrid/electric vehicles than traditional autos” 18% isn’t a lot. Does this warrant a special case for EVs that ICEs don’t require? Or if it is suddenly such an urgent safety issue shouldn’t all cars including ICEs be required to have low speed warning sounds? I would imagine that the 18% discrepancy is due some ICEs that are just loud even at low speed whether they are older vehicles, heavy duty vehicles or newer vehicles that have large powerful engines that still create enough noise at idle. There are plenty of newer cars with 4 cylinder engines that are quiet as a mouse coasting along. At speeds under 18 mph there is plenty of coasting where the engine idle can be as quiet as an EV. Then to make the issue even more complex during warmer or cooler weather the climate control fans and compressors make quite a bit of noise even in an EV. Sometimes even more than a small ICE idle would. So the irony will be that EVs with their silent drivetrain will now be noisier than an ICE in the… Read more »

Ear Buds Are The Worst .. Women running with those on have been Attacked from behind , some have been known to be Raped and even Murdered in some cases , Because they did not hear their attackers…Earbuds , Seriously should be Outlawed!

Not sure if you’re being facetious, but I suggest you check out


They offer a feature called ‘transparency’ and allow the wearer to hear their music as well as their surroundings.

Hope they help prevent any women in your life from being attacked.

This ruling is a bigotry.

Instead of relying on a set of noise parameter such as if you are quieter than this many dBs, then you must have an additional alert, they are singling out a specific groups of vehicles.

Many luxury V-8s have engines that are just quiet at low speed as those car in EV mode when the engine is idling or barely idling away.

Well, maybe it is time for people to start designing “fake engine” sound emitters that can emulate various type of cars for their EVs if the owners choose to have it.

Well, now to think of it, if the car puts out a sound similar to the ice cream trucks, then it might actually cause more crashes with pedestrians..

Maybe we should just have the cars play the Trump sound bites and it will probably keep most people away…

The majority intelligent 47.6% of the population would avoid that “Trump” sound bites.

The “not so intelligent” 47.1% of the population would be drawn to it and get taken out – a process of natural selection to weed out the stupid. However, the Electoral system would choose for us and make none of our opinions could and would provide us a leader to lead us all forward to walk forward and taken out.

The remaining would just stop dead in their tracks and look forward and say “no”, then look back and say “no”, so effectively stop dead in their tracks and do nothing.

Ok, I’m done now.

This is stupid. Hopefully we’ll get this reversed. I hate my leaf warning sound now. So much for peace and quiet.

Although I drive conscious that persons can’t hear me coming (in my Leaf), it isn’t people who are the problem. I’ve lost count of the number of dogs who wander around in the road in front of me, often I have to come to a dead stop until they realize with a start I’m there. Those little explosions going on in ICE vehicles are very noticeable to animals. I remember J Leno saying when he drives his vintage electric into the park the deer will come right up to the car, completely unafraid.

If it’s just to alert dogs, they should just add an ultrasonic buzzer then, so it doesn’t bother humans. Dogs has a hearing range of approx. 67 Hz to 45 kHz, while humans only has a hearing range of approx. 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
Elephants can hear down to 14–16 Hz, so for African safari off-road EVs they can add a subsonic sub-woofer to warn the elephants. 😉

Anyway humans gradually loses sensitivity to higher frequencies with age, so if humans should be warned too, I suggest a high pitched tone like say 15 kHz, so old people like Trump doesn’t get warned. 😉

Hearing range: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearing_range

As a bicyclist, who was badly injured by a dog, I look forward to getting a silent Bolt before regulation goes into effect.

79 year old man struck and killed by an i3 while running a half marathon today:

And I nearly killed my cat backing out of my driveway in my 330e..

I’m all in favor for space ship sounds on EVs!

“7News cameras captured one of the victim’s sneakers lying next to an evidence marker on the pavement, as well as his black baseball cap with the Toyota logo wedged into the SUV’s broken front windshield.”

1. It was an SUV.
2. It looks like a Toyota.
3. You claimed that it was BMW i3 while it wasn’t.

Therefore, I claim that you made that up!

Just because the President Elect of the Free World is doing the lying and making up stuff constantly, it doesn’t mean you should do the same.

Or you could watch the video with that news story and see an i3 with a Toyota cap stuck in the windshield.

If you’re going to call someone’s BS, it’s best to verify that it’s BS first. Otherwise, you’re just as bad as those that you decry.

So he paid someone to create a fake news story, hacked it onto a TV station’s website, all so he could LIE on the internet?

Methinks there were easier ways to do this if he was indeed lying.

More likely you didn’t read the story you decided you needed to flame about.

Lmao why are you attacking me? I thought it was odd they referred to an i3 as an SUV as well, but I didn’t write the article..

I love the silence of driving electrically just like the rest of us, but ithe silent operation is indeed an issue for both people and animals as we’ve seen repeatedly.

EVs don’t have to have a fake engine sound or loud alarm blaring while in motion, although a resounding whoosh would be sufficient to make their presence known, potentially saving lives.. which I would imagine is a virtue of ecofriendly cars

All cars have a noise maker. It’s called a stereo.

“The victim was sent into the air several feet high…the car was on a close street with no circulation allowed.»
How can you relate this to a lacking sound alerting pedestrian gimmick.
Nothing could prevent lunatic to run where there not suppose to?
Without any doubt, this car was moving much faster than 18 mph.

No sound would have prevented this happening but every vigilant driver would and will.

“And I nearly killed my cat backing out of my driveway in my 330e..”

Only 1 of it’s 9 lives though…

There is diffently a reason for having this as I know I have been snuck up on before…
This should have been a 20 minute decision 5 years ago but I wonder how many millions were spent figuring common sense out??

Since this is B*******, i hope i at least get to pick my sound and have fun with it.

With so many small children in my neighborhood , I really appreciate my LEAF’s backup beeping sound and the rear camera. I really wish I had that in my Odyssey with it’s huge blind spot in the rear.

For the longest time, I thought the forward VSP was the actual sound of the electric motor and I was disappointed in how loud it was.

Anyways, apparently a lot of thought went into this.

and the research paper,

I won’t pretend to like this, but it does seem to be a reasonable safety precaution. From the wording, it sounds like auto makers will be able to choose their own warning noise, so hopefully the usual thing will be a low-pitched hum, not too dissimilar from a gasmobile engine, and not that annoying BEEP BEEP BEEP which some vehicles emit when backing up.

Working at a hospital where I drive past seniors alot, I can see where this is a good thing. It never fails while I drive my i3, I always end up scaring some old person by honking my horn. And they always give me a mean scowl afterwards as if it’s my fault (smh). It just wouldn’t sit well for me sending someone into cardiac arrest because of a quiet drive train. So bring the noise (can the i3 be coded to make M3/M4 exhaust sounds? Lol).

Stupid. Whatever car I end up with and if it has that I will disable it.

The music being projected through the speakers along with the thumping bass is enough noise

What the hell is that stupid picture on the front

Old blind guy air walking across a highway LMAO

I’ve been anticipating this for years.

A good question may be… What sound?

I like the sound of the car from The Jetsons.

I really don’t see the big deal here ?

If the car only emits an audible sound to warn a pedestrian that’s hardly noticeable inside the cabin who cares.

In my outlander PHEV I have twice had pedestrians walk in the path of the car, once while reversing out of my garage when they were walking their dog and another time in the parking lot at the local supermarket.

I didn’t think I would see so many dangerously unwell on a site like this.

Demanding an extra lower noise horn warning system would be acceptable but imposing a permanent beeping sound is not acceptable.
With such a move next time they will ask that ev emit a minimum of smelly pollution in order for the blind and deaf to be able to smell an ev coming.

If they implement this rule they should apply it to silent ICE cars as well.

Tesla is, as usual, 5 years ahead of everyone else. The v. 1.0 autopilot has pedestrian detection software. Their patents have more detail about notifying the pedestrian audibly.
I prefer using dubstep with the sound system set at 11 and the windows down. That way, even deaf people can feel the bass!

In the late 70’s we had “The door is ajar” when opened.

It has been the only negative issue I’ve had with my leaf. I park nose to my garage to drive at night. I leave for work at 5:30 AM M-F. Because of the awkward shape of my driveway, I need usually 3-4 back-and-forths to turnaround and get out the driveway. At 5:30 with everyone sleeping, there should be a way to disable the audible warning on the LEAF, but there isn’t. As a result, all my neighbors know when I leave … they asked why I have the back up noise on … now I can point them to a link at least.

The best solution for pedestrians, and our future, is to ban cars from cities.

Even better, ban people.

Don’t worry. We are working on literally driving them to extinction. 🙂

SparkEV already has fake noise maker (called PFAF for Pedestrian Friendly Alert Feature). If you drive with windows down in city, you don’t notice it inside, and far less noticeable outside. You only hear it when the environment is very quiet and no breeze, no radio, no other car nearby, no one talking, etc.

As such, I don’t see how this will help with safety unless they make it very loud like in Pike’s peak. Here’s the link to discussion with measured dBA figures.


As Nix correctly point out, many luxury gas cars as well engine-kill-on-stop cars would be bad, yet fake noise maker doesn’t apply to them. If they cared so much about pedestrian safety, they should ban bicycles. I don’t see any “study” regarding pedestrian vs bicycles. This law is nothing more than nanny state harassment of EV.

A Harrison Bergeron rule to hamstring an advantage of EVs. :-/

And I thought you were a socialist. 😉

Excellent point, btw!


Imagine a major intersection with majority EVs. The light turns green and a cacophany of beeps ensues as the cars start moving. If you live near an intersection it will be worse than a car alarm going 24 hours a day.

Live near a school? With the 15 mph speed limit, all the cars dropping off kids will be blaring.

Want to make random citizen hate EVs? This is a good way to do it. I can see some of my neighbors shaking their fists at the EVs driving by blaring this awful sound.

This law makes ever EV almost as annoying as those folks who put their sound systems on the outside in order to share their music tastes with the rest of us.

The real solution should be some sort of pedestrian horn and technology that wirelessly broadcasts to a device that blind people carry.

Stupid. I had this on my LEAF and I disabled it. I have it on my Volt too, and once I figure out how to disable it, I will.

All cars have a noisemaker. It is the horn. We don’the need more noises.

The Cadillac ELR, besides having the pedestrian horn you can actuate, actually already has a pedestrian alert sound emitted at speeds below 20 mph. It is a sound somewhat like a turbine, and it increases in volume and pitch as you go faster. It is not detectable inside the car unless the windows are down, and even then hard to notice unless there is a structure or car alongside reflecting the sound back in. I have not found it at all annoying.