Electric Cars Must Now Make Noise and We Have Some Suggestions

Image: AP
Image: AP

Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a new “quiet car” safety standard, which is designed to protect pedestrians—particularly those who are vision-impaired—from hybrid and electric cars.

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The mandate will require new hybrid and electric vehicles under 10,000 pounds to come equipped with built-in “audible noise,” which will sound when the car is traveling under about 19 miles per hour. “At higher speeds,” the NHTSA’s press release says, “the sound alert is not required because other factors, such as tire and wind noise, provide adequate audible warning to pedestrians.” The agency says the new rules will prevent roughly 2,400 pedestrian injuries annually once all is said and done. Manufacturers have until September 2019 to comply with the new rules.

According to a detailed description of the rule, the new standard stems from a mandate within the 2010 Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. The latter required the NHTSA “to establish performance requirements for an alert sound that is recognizable as a motor vehicle in operation,” which suggests that the sounds, whatever they form they might take, may be artificial.

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“Engine-sound enhancement” isn’t an alien concept—fancy cars like the BMW M5 were noted for their fake engine noises, for example. Of course, those noises were designed for the driver, not a pedestrian outside the car, and they weren’t necessarily implemented with safety in mind.

Still, the idea that a car can come equipped with its own fake soundtrack is fun, and with that in mind, we’ve come up with some noise suggestions for car manufacturers in the event they can’t think of any themselves.

1. The Simpsons “electric car of the future”


2. Yoko Ono’s scream therapy

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3.  “CAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA-AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR” 


4. Spookin’ in the wrong neighborhood


5. Howard Dean’s scream


6. Airhorn sound effects


7. “I WAS TOLD BY APPLE CARE”


8. “I don’t know her”


9. HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK

Did we miss any? Tell us in the comments below.

[CNET]

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Sophie is a former news editor at Gizmodo.

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DISCUSSION

Really? Is this necessary? I spend a lot of time biking and walking in the city... hybrids already have a noise, you can hear the electric motor wooshing. I think tire and wind noise becomes audible at much lower speeds than 19mph as well.

Also, do we really need to actively contribute to noise pollution in cities? I quite like how quiet cars have become. I can already hear cars while biking just fine, I don’t think additional noisemaking is necessary, and I suspect the hearing of the vision impaired is even better than mine...

How about if instead we find a way to keep the damn pedestrians out of the street and bike lanes, how about that? Why isn’t that the primary goal of the “Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act”? Eh?