• Apr 10th 2008 at 2:58PM
  • 33
We've reported on the silent dangers of hybrids before, and it appears that word of their possible threat to blind people has made it to the halls of Congress. A bill is being introduced today in the House of Representatives that calls for the U.S. Department of Transportation to study whether or not the feds need to regulate a minimum sound level for all cars and, if so, what that minimum should be. If passed, the entire auto industry would have two years to comply. The issue revolves around blind people not being able to hear hybrids while they're running solely on battery power, since they produce much less noise than a normal car with an internal combustion engine. We've heard no reports, however, of hybrids being involved in accidents with pedestrians where the vehicle's silent operation was at fault, but clearly there are many who would like to keep it that way.
The state of Maryland actually passed similar legislation last month, and the industry's own Society of Automotive Engineers already has a task force studying whether or not the decibel level, or lack thereof, produced by hybrids is something we should be worrying about.

Our question is that if such a bill were passed, what technology would automakers use to increase the sound a hybrid makes while running on battery power? Might we hear hybrids with external speakers pumping out the soundtrack of a fossil fuel-burning V8?

[Source: Automotive News, sub. req'd]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 33 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Let's get THE answers for everything from the government. First, folks complained that cars, trucks, and especially motorcycles were too LOUD. So manufacturer's went to some pains to make their respective vehicles quieter. Now, a few people are complaining that a few cars (how many hybrid vehicles are currently on the road?) are too quiet.

      BTW, NO this isn't more important than roof crush standards, as a previous poster implied. Last time I checked, rollovers occur more often than NEAR MISSES between hybrid vehicles and pedestrians.

      If the government really wants to do something about vehicle noise levels, I suggest making it a misdemeanor to blast rap music from a vehicle within the city limits of all U.S. cities.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Otherwise, people need to get off their cell phones and IPods and pay attention.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "Our question is that if such a bill were passed, what technology would automakers use to increase the sound a hybrid makes while running on battery power?"

      Playing cards in the spokes would be the obvious choice.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "Uncle" should stay out of it, they have already driven the auto industry to their knees with their "infinite knowledge".
        • 7 Years Ago
        gotta love it: cafe forces cars to be more efficient, this law forces cars to be less efficient.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I read something about this several months ago and I thought it was rediculous, until I was walking across (crosswalk) the road at the mall and was almost mowed down by widget looking vehicle called Prius. It was daylight but I was really paying attention and I didn't hear it approaching. Pretty. Odd. (P!ATD in stores now) LOL
        • 7 Years Ago
        I have a friend who works for Google.. Google offers an incentive for their employees to buy fuel efficient hybrids, so their crowded parking lots are full of Priuses. (Priusses? Prii?) They call the Prius "The Silent Killer" beacuse of all the near misses.

        I wonder if those exhaust whislers from a few years back could be rigged up with electric motors...
        • 7 Years Ago
        **ridiculous** sorry about the typo
      • 7 Years Ago
      Just play radio loud when driving!!!

      NO WONDER THIS NATION IS GOING TO POT!!!!!!!!

      HOW ABOUT TERM LIMITS, MAYBE THEN SOMETHING WILL GET DONE RIGHT!!!!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Just install the beepers like on industrial vehicles that sound whenever the vehicle is in reverse. The new RR Phantom has a baffle in the exhaust pipe to really silence the car at very low speeds, for parades, the Queen, and such.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'd rather have maximum sound levels. Owning a boom car should be a felony.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Stupidest thing I have heard. I walk to work every day. You hear cars approaching by tire/wind noise, not engine noise unless it is some riced up honda.

      Go give it a listen sometime.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What, exactly, are they going to legislate? The noise emitted by the car at idle? Or the sound level at a given speed?

      If it's the latter, hybrids already make nearly as much noise as a conventional vehicle. Wind displacement and tire roar are most of what you hear when a vehicle is approaching, as long as the speed is over ~20 mph.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I'm gonna remove my cat and resonator just to make sure my car isn't too quiet for the blind folks.

      Hey, we can make fun of them a little bit. They aren't reading this, right?
        • 7 Years Ago
        don't worry...I'm blind and I can't see your offensive remark
        • 7 Years Ago
        hahahahaha harsh but funny
      • 7 Years Ago
      Think of the possiblities ... soundtracks for every engine past and present ... I'd like mine to sound like a hemi ... how about a mac truck ... or a vw beetle?
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