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Obama signs bill that will lead to “warning noise” requirement for electric cars

Human impacts, Vehicles Add comments

The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, championed by John Kerry and the National Federation for the Blind, was signed in early January by President Obama. Spurred by concerns that new, near-silent vehicles may pose a danger to both the blind and those not paying attention visually, the law will eventually require all vehicles on the road to make some sound to help keep pedestrians safe. For now, the law calls on the Secretary of Transportation to “study and establish a motor vehicle safety standard that provides for a means of alerting blind and other pedestrians of motor vehicle operation.”

This year’s new entrants in the electic car sweepstakes already include features that help with this problem. The Nissan Leaf makes a sound to warn pedestrians when traveling at slow speeds (at higher speeds tire noise is sufficient), and the Chevy Volt includes a chirping sound that can be triggered by the driver (as a subtler alternative to the horn).

For a look at some sound design concepts for electric vehicles, see this AEINews post from about a year ago.

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