As electric vehicles are gaining in popularity for their energy efficiency and low fuel costs, we are seeing more and more of them on the roads. With this increase in electric vehicles comes a decrease in something we didn’t think we’d miss, but maybe we do: sound.
Because they run electrically, these vehicles emit almost no sound. While this was once considered a positive to reduce noise pollution, it is now becoming a safety issue as people do not hear them approaching until often times it’s too late.
In an effort to combat this issue, Congress passed a law to enhance pedestrian safety in 2010, instructing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to create a rule that mandates hybrid/electric vehicles emit some kind of sound. In 2016, the rule was finalized and it states that the noise must be produced every time a vehicle drives at a speed of 18.6 mph or higher. Automakers have until September of 2020 to make it happen.
NHTSA says the alert will help prevent 2,400 injuries annually.
Now, major producers of electric vehicles are crafting sounds that fit the requirements to install in the newest models of their cars. The Agency has agreed to allow owners to choose from a range of sounds to equip their silent vehicles with.
Nissan, for example, is working with the studio Man Made Music, to design a sound that rises in pitch as the car accelerates that will accurately represent Nissan and the vehicle owner all in one. Chevy has gotten to work as well, creating a sound to represent its Bolt, as has Harley Davidson, because the law applies to motorcycles too.
As companies continue to develop these safety sounds, keep an eye out – or an ear out – for a new jingle on the road.