NHTSA has finalized the quiet car rule that will apply to electric vehicles and hybrids including low speed vehicles. The rule requires EVs and other quiet cars like hybrids to emit alert sounds to warn pedestrians of their approach at low speeds. Vehicles will have to emit sounds when they are moving at speeds of up to 18.6 mph (30 km/hr). Some automakers had pushed for a lower speed threshold of 20 km/hr.
Originally the rule was to be implemented by September 2019 when automakers would have to have 50% of the vehicles equipped with the sounds. After a review by the Trump administration the implementation date has been pushed back by a year to 2020, a full decade since Congress first passed the relevant law. NHTSA expects the rules to prevent 2,400 injuries annually. It is possible that NHTSA will allow manufacturers to provide multiple sounds from which consumers to choose. Learn more: Reuters.com
SVR’s Take: This could prove to be an annoying regulation in many campus or gated community settings where LSVs are prevalent. They will likely continuously be making noises since most of their travel around campuses or communities will likely be under the speed threshold. There is the possibility that constantly hearing the alerts could de-sensitize pedestrians to the alerts and negate the intended safety effects. Another unintended consequence is that drivers may want to drive more quickly to keep the vehicle over the threshold speed to avoid triggering the alert.
Marc Cesare, SVR