We've discussed the issue of lack of noise from electric vehicles in the past and now the US National Federation of the Blind has returned the debate. It's tough enough for sighted pedestrians to take note of the humming of the motor, but those who can't see have to rely on other senses when crossing the road. In an informal test with hybrid cars, many blind pedestrians couldn't detect the passing cars at all.
Now the Federation is trying to get regulators to look at including minimum sound standards for new vehicles. The Maryland chapter tried to get such a standard included in that state's emissions standards which are determined by the state Department of the Environment. However, this is a safety issue over which that department has no jurisdiction. They are now talking with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Highway Administration as well as manufacturers about what to do about the problem. Forcing electrically driven cars to generate noise is not technically a problem, the issue is what kind of sound and how loud. After all one of the advantages of EVs is the reduced noise pollution.

[Source: International Herald Tribune]

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