Trump’s Deregulation Might Mean EVs Won’t Need Pedestrian Safety Sounds

Electric Cars


The first production Tesla Model 3 (July 8, 2017) – Trump’s push to deregulate may make it easier for makers of electric cars.

Due to the Trump administration’s assertion that too many laws are expensive and unnecessary, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may repeal or alter rules affecting electric cars.

Trump has vowed to help businesses and create jobs by deregulating. Making laws and enforcing them is costly, and can just further the difficulty of successful business. The NHTSA is now reviewing its 2018 budget and has definitive plans to deregulate standards such as those that mandate backup cameras, on/off switches for airbags, stability control for heavy duty trucks, and even those that require electric cars to make a noise at low speeds.

According to Trump, these type of laws are issues that can be attended to and/or chosen by consumers, and shouldn’t be required by automakers. Perhaps people can use a rearview mirror as they always have in the past, or opt for a backup camera if they so choose, stability control may not be needed for certain heavy duty truck uses, and if people drive as they are supposed to, and give pedestrians the right of way, an added sound may be redundant.

We have to say, losing those side mirrors would be a boost to fuel economy numbers in all vehicles, and improve ranges in electric vehicles.

Electric Cars

As more battery-electric cars like the Chevrolet Bolt hit our roadways, automakers may enjoy less U.S. federal government restrictions, at least while Trump’s in office.

Automakers have been arguing for some time that these rules hinder production and are unnecessary, and other laws are simply outdated. However, the government has attempted to act with care, since eliminating some would cause safety concerns that could have dire consequences, which are also expensive.

In 2010, Congress mandated that hybrid and electric cars must emit a noise to make pedestrians aware, since the cars are quiet when operating in battery mode. This law was especially geared toward alerting the blind. The law just became final in December of 2016, but before it took effect  in February 2017, the Trump administration delayed its application until September. An NHTSA statement explained:

“NHTSA is working with the new administration on its regulatory portfolio and priorities, including pending petitions for reconsideration.”

Former NHTSA administrator, Joan Claybrook, shared:

“This looks like to me that the agency was trying to figure out what things they didn’t really need and what things really aggravated the manufacturers. But I do think the agency does have the obligation to explain these things when they take effect.”

It will come as no surprise if automakers and related lobbyists fully support these changes, primarily because it saves manufacturers time and money. However, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety disagree. Senior Vice President, Henry Jasny, concluded:

“It’s bad policy to take off the books policies that are effective now and saving lives.”

Source: Bloomberg

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56 Comments on "Trump’s Deregulation Might Mean EVs Won’t Need Pedestrian Safety Sounds"

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Most noise comes from tires.
EVs are not silent or quiet at least not less noice than a new ICE.
Ultra sonic sensors in the bumpers is all it takes. Has worked fine for many years, together with cameras is great.

Mirrors not needed anymore.

Good that dumb sound is worthless

Exactly, and fix reviews like, the Bolt EV is nice, but has annoying motor whine that goes away at above 20 mph.

Was it only SparkEV that had “Pedestrian Friendly Alert Feature” (what I call fake noise maker)? None of the EV I encounter make any sound when stopped or in low speed, but SparkEV makes “whoosh” sounds when in R, D, L, and there is no switch to turn it off.

Many or most ICE cars make Little to just about No Noise at Idle.The little noise some make can’t be heard in city traffic anyways.They can only be heard under aggressive acceleration or high speeds….Gimme EV’s “Silence is Golden”

Yeah, with many or most cars I hear tire noise before engine noise when a car approaches. I walk a lot in the city and have always thought it was dumb to require EVs to make extra noise at low speeds when ICE vehicles do not have to.

Nope, LEAF had it as well.

2011-2012 could turn it off, 2013+ could not.

The sound can be disabled in the LEAF through software. The beta version of LEAFSpy does it.

My i-MiEV was easily modified — just pull one of the speaker connectors off the speaker in front of the passenger wheel well.

nice find!

OK, where can you get the LeafSpy Beta with the capability to disable VSP? (Apple/IOS)

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

The Volt, PiP and LEAF had it from day 1.

Incorrect – volt only switched to continuous noise for Gen 2, or day… 1800 or so.

Mercedes B Class Electric has it too.

The Fiat 500e has a low speed noisemaker.

E-Golf has it. So does the i3. Their sounds are more car like – as opposed to a leaf that is a bit sci-fi.

Our 2014 U.S. i3 does not have the pedestrian warning sound, but our 2012 i-MiEV did.

I guess other EV have the fake noise turned off or more pleasant since I never seem to notice them. SparkEV sounds like metal on metal grinding, and very noticeable. A friend thought something broke and rattling under the hood in “idle”.

So dumb.

Cool! Blind people, outta my way…

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

The noise maker was a stupid requirement.

The auto industry’s denied request to use cameras to replace side view mirrors an replaced by something else was also another over regulated issue.
It had more positive results than negative.
I’m not sure what the regulators considered negative though. Last rumor I heard was the electronics may fail?
I’ve seen mirrors fail too. Either the glass portion is missing or the entire housing.
I’ve seen many cars WITHOUT side view mirrors…

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

They could have at least allowed me to use my mp3 file as “car tones” for pedestrian alerting.

I thought about re-routing fake noise maker to high power stereo mounted under hood to play Quiet Riot’s “Come on feel the noize” at full blast when alert is enabled. It has short intro and stays noisy throughout.

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

I guess I can justify putting in a Zapco Amp and 2 10″ Subs to help pedestrians know I’m in the close vicinity.
Play the theme song of Jaws.

I actually think the pedestrian-safety sounds is exactly the type of thing that _should_ be regulated. Whether or not such sounds are helpful (and I don’t have a firm opinion there either way), the worst possible state of affairs is for different cars to have different solutions.
Being able to turn off an airbag is a serious safety issue — if you don’t, carrying a child in the front seat is really dangerous. None of the automatic systems that I’ve seen to handle this work well (e.g., sense weight on the seat), so the simplest solution is a key-enabled manual disable, which turns on a warning light on the dash.

If they are really worried about pedestrians, then there should be a minimum sound level for all vehicles, and it should be enforced equally. There are some insanely quiet luxury ICE cars out there.

And if they are going to set a standard, it should be based upon actual science. Like what speeds are potentially deadly or high chance of major injury? What speeds is it reasonable to expect noise to save a pedestrian from an oncoming car? etc.

The current regs seem to just say stick a noise maker on it because it is an EV and everybody should be afraid of EV’s.

Hear, hear!

For sure.
AFA being science-based, I was under the impression that there was some research already done on this, but maybe I’m wrong.

Re luxury cars being quiet, only on the inside — I’ve never heard of one that attempts to be quiet for people outside the car.

Many cars have engine stop when stopped, making them lot quieter than fake noise maker enabled EV. Fake noise mandate is not to protect people when the EV is moving, but to “protect” them when stopped.

Must… resist… urge.. to… run… into… stopped… EV… Ahh, there’s fake noise; now my prefrontal cortex can resist the urge.

Sounds on EVs only make sense if they banned cell phone use and also phone headsets for pedestrians and cyclists.

That be the first time I agree with Drumbft!

Well, even a blind man can hit the bulleye.

Deregs are not really intended for the car industry…oil, financial and pharma are the ones that paid for these so before you agree with him just look at the bigger picture.

I get the picture, don’t worry.
Your president is a showbiz clown.
The show must go on!
And I don’t understand why this was not obvious for the voters.
I know, many politicians look like cartoon, but at that point it’s amazing.
Still the pedestrian safety sound is useless like a hash tray on a motorbike.

Great news. That said I really like the Volt solution as there is a warning tone if you press the turn signal stalk which is much quieter than the horn which will startle people.

I think they discontinued that for Gen 2, didn’t they? I don’t know of such a feature on mine.

Gen 2 changed to the continuous noise model. Gen 1 was more sensible and let you activate a gentle horn to signal your presence as required.

Car Order Volume For Everyone From Everywhere … the real covfefe

I wonder how long it will take for some company to invent something where it makes noise only when it senses a pedestrian in danger of being struck by the car?

Lets Roll… Get out the way‼️

Are electric cars silent to seeing eye dogs? My guess is that they aren’t. My cats seem to know when I drive up in my Volt, it’s not conclusive evidence but it is a fact that cats and dogs can hear much higher frequencies than humans and I suspect that electric motors have a whine that’s right in their frequency range. Doesn’t anyone know a definitive answer about this?

Do any EVS not have front and back radars or backup cameras? My Volt watches for pedestrians and on coming cars. The radars serve multiple safety purposes, not just for protecting pedestrians, but also collision avoidance on the highway.

Cats and dogs have hearing that is much more sensitive than human hearing. I doubt that they need to hear the “whine” of the electric motor to hear an EV coming.

However, seeing eye dogs are trained to watch — not listen — for traffic, when their owner wants to cross a street. Of course just like any other animal or human, a seeing eye dog can be distracted. However, I think it’s reasonable to think the average seeing eye dog is far less likely to walk into traffic than some human looking at his cellphone while walking along!

I’m putting an ice cream truck music box on my M3 and you nay-sayers can kiss my ice if you don’t like it!

Lets get ride of side mirrors next. Too much drag. Cameras and sensors can do the job.

Absolutely !

Get out the way

Get out the way

Roll… ?

The NHTSA is now reviewing its 2018 budget and has definitive plans to deregulate standards such as… those that require electric cars to make a noise at low speeds.

Wow! If this actually happens, I may be forced to say something nice about the Trumpster administration.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.

I wouldn’t hold my breath.

The comments above appear to be mainly from people that “Drive Everywhere to Everything”. Noise is DEFINITELY needed !!

I have had several near misses with bicycles – but those collisions are rarely fatal AND bicyclists are not inside a multi-ton cocoon with audio blaring ! EVs are a future risk I dread.

Note that I live in New Orleans and. according to my app, I walk an average of 1.4 miles/day during daily errands.

The noise level mandated is only audible in very quiet environment, and bicycle going even 5 MPH or walking in strong breeze will swamp out the fake noise from EV. In noisy city, noise is always swamped out.

If you’re arguing that such low noise is required from EV when stopped, fake noise should be mandated from all parked cars, too. In fact, every building, bicycle, pedestrian should be mandated to create fake noise. This makes no sense, neither does fake noise for EV.

“inside a multi-ton cocoon with audio blaring”

So.. there’s already noise. Why add more?

Fake sounds are horrible but I am all in for a softer secondary horn!

You folks in the USA might not know this but the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV also makes an electronic sound when going slowly but only when the car ours going forward. No such alarm when car is reversing.

I don’t want noise on my ev but I like to keep the mirrors.

This is a “solution” in search of a problem.

Overall, removing these regulations might be a backwards move, and not in a good way. Reversing cameras were introduced to give clear vision behind the vehicle, where small children were most often run over because the driver couldn’t see them. Vehicle stability control was introduced because the computer can more accurately control the vehicle dynamics to help prevent loss of control. Bolt reviews already indicate the rear view camera in the rear view mirror is harder to quickly focus on than the actual glass mirror. If you leave the safety features up to the manufacturer then you will be back in the 80’s. Go and drive a car from the 80’s and honestly tell me you prefer that to the modern car from the last couple of years.

Sorry, Trump has it wrong on so many fronts. It sounds great and all, but look at the history of why we are where we are, and then think about moving back to the place we already have been.

Next you’ll have an outhouse again because some bozzo decided the inside toilet cost too much to plumb and is a health risk if the pipe burst!

I agree with Jason, regulations sometimes are poorly set but with good intentions. Sometimes we get stuff that is pointless… But other times we get anti-lock brakes (which save as many lives as airbags but without having an accident at all). People say that if we drove like we are supposed to etc etc… Vehicle safety was an epidemic… In 20 years we completely turned it around and we are still improving. By all means my 1996 Honda Civic was a safe car… But it lacked ABS, TPMS, Traction Control, Stability Control etc. I almost crashed that car because if no ABS when I was new to driving. Also I borrowed my step dad’s pickup truck once and it had lightly rained. I was going 45 and the speed changed to 55 so I accelerated lightly and the rear end completely broke loose and suddenly I was sideways back and fourth about 7 times before I righted the car. Again I was 17 in 2000. All the cars I had driven in the rain prior where FWD and you don’t die if the wheels slip. I would honestly say I was very lucky and most kids my age would not… Read more »