SAN FRANCISCO--The National Highway Transportation Safety
Administration (NHTSA) thinks one of the greatest features of
electric and hybrid-electric vehicles is one of its most lethal:
So, to protect iPod-listening, iPhone-tapping pedestrians from harm,
the federal agency this week proposed
adding sounds to EV and PHEVs running below 18 mph (30
kph). (I'm not convinced a pure EV running faster than 18 mph makes
enough tire noise to be considered safe either, but whatever).
NHTSA, in announcing the public comment period, estimates:
"...that if this proposal were implemented there
would be 2,800 fewer pedestrian and pedalcyclist injuries over
the life of each model year of hybrid cars, trucks and vans and
low speed vehicles, as compared to vehicles without sound."
For reference, there were 4,280 pedestrian fatalities (13 percent
of total traffic fatalities) and 618 bicycle-car fatalities in 2010
(1.9 percent of total traffic fatalities), according to NHTSA data.
NHTSA's "preferred alternative" (one of several, including no
action) "would establish minimum sound requirements within specific
one-third octave band ranges between 160 and 5000 Hz for E
Vs and HVs
at idle through 30 km/h, as well as when in reverse," according to
the agency. Required sound levels would range from the low 40s dB
(idle) to around 60 dB (at 18 mph). Another alternative favored by
automotive manufacturers and used in Japan calls for sound up to 44
dB only on motion and only up to 12 mph (20 kph).
You knew this was coming
. And in the age of the downloadable app, in
the era of the ringtone, this presents a huge new opportunity for
drivers to customize their EVs and PHEVs. Artificial engine noise
would be so completely lame, but you have to figure that'll be an
But how about a lion growl? Elk bugle? Uncontrolled laughter?
Chainsaw noise? How about easing into the school parking zone
blaring "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's 9th? Driving into the parking
lot at work with Mozart's "Requiem?"
We have 60 days to comment. How would you customize your car's
sounds? Let us know your ideas in the reader comment section below!
I have LPC Xpresso board targets from NXP to give away for the 10 cleverest
Valley Nation: 30-year battery life? Really?
Valley Nation: Robot ethics or ours?
sound of silence