New Rule Requires Quiet Electric, Hybrid Cars To Emit Sound Alerts The problem with those quiet electric cars and hybrids? They're too quiet. This month rules were finalized requiring automakers to install speakers in cars to emit sounds when rolling at low speeds.
NPR logo

New Rule Requires Quiet Electric, Hybrid Cars To Emit Sound Alerts

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/503416817/503416818" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
New Rule Requires Quiet Electric, Hybrid Cars To Emit Sound Alerts

Law

New Rule Requires Quiet Electric, Hybrid Cars To Emit Sound Alerts

New Rule Requires Quiet Electric, Hybrid Cars To Emit Sound Alerts

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/503416817/503416818" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The problem with those quiet electric cars and hybrids? They're too quiet. This month rules were finalized requiring automakers to install speakers in cars to emit sounds when rolling at low speeds.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

New rules made final this month will require electric and hybrid cars to be noisier. Many people just can't hear them coming. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the new standards could prevent 2,400 injuries a year. NPR listeners were once invited to tell us what they'd like to hear coming out of electric cars. The clear winner...

(SOUNDBITE OF HOVER CAR)

SIMON: ...The hover car from the Jetsons. So can we have that?

ROBERT STRASSBURGER: Unfortunately, under the rule, no.

SIMON: Robert Strassburger, vice president for vehicle safety at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

STRASSBURGER: The sound to be emitted really has to be instantly recognizable as a motor vehicle in operation.

SIMON: Mr. Strassburger worked with the National Federation of the Blind to develop the rules. At first, he says, he told them, but we've worked for 30 years to make cars quiet.

STRASSBURGER: One of the gentlemen from the NFB with whom we worked actually was hit by a hybrid vehicle. He did not hear it. And so it's, I think, critically important that the sound emitted does sound like a car. It benefits all of us - but, most particularly, the blind.

SIMON: Auto manufacturers need to make their new cars noisier by September 2019. What about a little theme music?

(SOUNDBITE OF HERB ALPERT AND THE TIJUANA BRASS COMPOSITION, "TIJUANA TAXI")

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.