Feds want hybrids to sound off

Studies show a higher rate of pedestrian accidents associated with ultra-quiet hybrids than with gas-powered vehicles.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 12, 2011 11:40AM

This post comes from Truman Lewis at partner site ConsumerAffairs.com.

 

Listen up, hybrid and electric car owners. The feds want to hear you loud and clear.

 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been worried for quite a while that these new-fangled electric and hybrid cars would be sneaking up on unsuspecting pedestrians, since they make almost no noise when running electrically.

 

NHTSA has published a notice saying it wants to require that an alert noise be made by all light-duty cars, motorcycles, buses and trucks that use electric motors some or all of the time.

 

"Even as we make giant leaps forward with hybrid and electric vehicles, we must remain laser focused on safety," NHTSA administrator David Strickland said in a statement. "With more and more quiet vehicles on the road, we have to consider their effect on pedestrians." Post continues after video.

NHTSA held a public meeting on the matter in June 2008 and by October 2009 had gathered statistics showing a higher rate of pedestrian accidents associated with hybrids than with gas-powered vehicles.

What kind of device will NHTSA require? A little bell, maybe? Or perhaps a whirring sound? Or just a plain old horn?

 

It's too soon to say, since the agency has until Jan. 4, 2014, to finalize the rule. Once that rule takes effect, manufacturers would have until September 2017 to implement it. 

 

General Motors is a little bit ahead of the game. Its plug-in Chevy Volt has an alert system that's activated when the driver pulls the turn-signal lever, the company said.

 

More on ConsumerAffairs.com and MSN Money:

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

163Comments
Jul 12, 2011 1:16PM
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If you're too dumb to look before you cross the street, Darwin says to get out of the gene pool.
Jul 12, 2011 1:35PM
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I vote for a giant sucking sound much like the sound the endless government bureaucracies make while spending money confiscated from us on useless crap like this.
Jul 12, 2011 1:28PM
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maybe we should teach the pedestrians to look both way before crossing the street
Jul 12, 2011 1:44PM
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I want cars to keep getting quieter. Open your eyes. We have trained ourselves to hear, not see cars. We will now have to retrain ourselves and look not just hear. Simple.
Jul 12, 2011 1:37PM
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I like Spence's comment. If you aren't bright enough to look both ways before you cross the street, you deserve what you get. 

Come on people. Take some responsibility on your own actions. Stop letting Big Brother make your decisions for you. 
Jul 12, 2011 2:57PM
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THIS ISN'T DUMB, I ALMOST GOT RAN OVER BY A PRIUS IN MY APARTMENTS. I DID NOT HEAR IT COMING AND STARTED TO WALK ACROSS THE STREET, IT NEARLY MISSED ME BECAUSE I WAS WALKING IN BETWEEN CARS AND I DID NOT HEAR IT.

                 First, the car did not "nearly miss" you - obviously it DID miss you or you wouldn't have escaped unharmed. Second, if you really were "walking between cars" to cross the street, then you deserved to get hit. If a driver can't see you, how is he supposed to avoid hitting you? Third, if you were depending on "hearing" cars in order to know that there was traffic on the street, you're not the brightest bulb in the lamp, are you? Most of us were taught AS CHILDREN to look both ways before crossing a street.
Jul 12, 2011 1:15PM
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Are you KIDDING ME??  How about we push for a law against STUPIDITY??  I am someone who likes to walk A LOT and I was taught very early on to LOOK BOTH WAYS before you step off of the curb or make a major movement near the road...So now we have lawmakers wasting time thinking about how to make stupid people less likely to do something stupid...
Jul 12, 2011 2:26PM
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Its called "look both ways before you cross". You learned it when you were what? 4?
Jul 12, 2011 2:42PM
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Guess it's too much to expect for pedestrians to look before going out into parking lots, streets, etc. Anyone else tired of the govt. interfering in every aspect of our lives?
Jul 12, 2011 2:45PM
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What about the pedestrian's responsibility?  Let's teach tem to walk, without head or cell phones, facing the traffic, so they can see the car!!  I live in an area without sidewalks, and don't understand how kids can walk 4 abreast, with the traffic, and pay no attention to the road.  Just another avenue for a potential lawsuit!

  I thought there were government regulations to reduce noise pollution!

Jul 12, 2011 1:27PM
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So, I'm gonna put some baseball cards on my wheel mounts and make the car sound sooo fast!

Jul 12, 2011 1:48PM
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Oh, I got a great new job stimulus program.

 

Lets take a bunch of people who are off work.  Pay them $17.50/hour to stand at the intersections on the sidewalk.  Give them one of those signs that the road flaggers hold that say STOP/SLOW.   When the inattentive (being nice) pedestrians who are too busy texting and walking start to step off the sidewalk into the road AGAINST the light, these people stick the sign out in front of their face and let them run into it.

 

Jobs for americans, appropriate punishment for stupidy and far cheaper than trying to fix the probelm with CARS... (and heck, it would be kinda funny, too).

 

Jul 12, 2011 2:27PM
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So then why is it you can get a ticket if you have no muffler?  Can't I tell the officer that I am just being EXTRA safe?
Jul 12, 2011 1:11PM
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Noise is a form of wasteful energy.  Many new gas powered cars are extremely quiet also.  Whatever noise level gets dictated will also have to apply to other vehicles.  Maybe every vehicle should sound like a motorcycle.  Even then, people not paying attention will still be struck.

 

You can't legislate stupidity away but our stupid legislators keep trying. 

Jul 12, 2011 3:34PM
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this is pathetic.  so we can make a car that will reduce use of fuel, and cut down on noise pollution, and what do we want to do, make it loud and annoying.. instead of telling people to look both ways, and not walk in the street.  i am all for safe driving and safety devices, but you cannot fix stupid. if people are so absorbed in their cell phone or Ipod,  that they will walk out into traffic then they deserve to take a hit.  there are things called sidewalks people, stay on them.
Jul 12, 2011 3:26PM
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Some of the reasons for posting a positive comment about having more noise coming from hybrid vehicles are the most dumbest things I have every read.  What ever happened to being taught the warning, "Look both ways before crossing the street".  Hold yourself accountable at times for your own safety, for goodness sake!
Jul 12, 2011 3:30PM
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Maybe folks should look before crossing...I don't know.  It's just an idea.
Jul 12, 2011 2:31PM
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This is like the law requiring locomotives to blast away with their ear-damaging horns even at protected crossings.  Anybody who walks into the street without looking deserves a Darwin award.  Give the rest of us a break.  The government nannies never quit.
Jul 12, 2011 4:03PM
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Simple answer.  Clothespin some cards to the spokes.

 

Jul 12, 2011 1:57PM
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Great.

 

Technology advances to reduce noise polution and Government says we can't handle the change.  So we make more noise and are back to square one.  How about this idea, pedestrians and drivers watch out for each other.  Of course that requires Individual responsibility, and I don't think that's in the Government's dictionary.

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