House passes bill to require minimum sound levels from hybrids, EVs

2011 Chevrolet Volt

The House of Representatives passed a bill today to require minimum sound levels to be emitted from quiet electric and hybrid vehicles, in order to help warn blind pedestrians. Last week the same measure unanimously cleared the Senate. It is the first piece of legislation pertaining to auto safety passed under President Obama.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the chief sponsor of the bill and a hybrid owner, said it “will allow us to continue to promote our energy independence and technological innovation while safeguarding those who use senses other than sight to navigate the roads.”

Under the bill, the NHTSA will be required to establish requirements for an alert sound that will allow blind pedestrians to reasonably detect a nearby hybrid or electric vehicle operating at low speeds. The legislation is fully supported by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers.

Currently, the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt are equipped with mechanisms that alert pedestrians, though it was not required of them.

– By: Stephen Calogera

Source: Detroit News