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The Sound Of Silence Is Proving Too Much For Some

Electric cars are much quieter than our gas-powered cars, which to some is making it dangerous for pedestrians who might not hear them.  So regulators in the U.S. are making it mandatory for them to make some amount of sound.

It is nice that these electric cars make less sound, especially in you live in a major city or near a highway.  With this noisy world, electric cars decrease noise pollution.  But this has a downside in that at low speeds it can be quite difficult to hear one coming.  The worry is in parking lots or near driveways this could be a problem for pedestrians who may be distracted by something else, not see them and get hit.

By 2020 electric cars will be required to make some noise at low speeds

This was actually a law that was passed in 2010 in Congress that said the National Highway Traffic Administration would have to settle on requiring electric cars to make sounds at low speeds.

This was expected to be done by January 2014 but, incredibly,  the agency didn’t announce the rule until 2016.  The rule said that all new hybrids and fully electric vehicles would have to make a sound when traveling at speeds up to 18.6 mph by September 2019.  This deadline has now been extended to September 2020, with auto companies reaching 50% compliance by September 2019.

It is estimated that this regulation will prevent over 2,400 injuries to pedestrians per year

At Tesla, CEO Elon Musk said, “I think the sensible, ideal thing long-term solution is to have proximity sensors that direct a pleasant sounding noise in the direction of where somebody is walking, so, therefore, it’s the least amount of noise, and it’s not annoying, and it’s only going to where it needs to go. That’s what I think is the right long-term solution.”  This way the system would identify and target pedestrians.

Some say this technology would be too expensive and complicated to produce. In the end, the noise isn’t going to be any louder than any other car would be.

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