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New Federal Rules Announced for 'Quiet' Vehicles

Last month, the federal government finalized new regulations which will require “quiet” vehicles, such as electric cars or hybrids, to emit alert sounds when they are traveling at speeds up to 18.6 m.p.h. The new rules are an effort to help prevent pedestrian and bicycle accidents, as well as protect people who are blind from being injured in accidents involving quiet vehicles.

Electric and hybrid cars provide a very quiet ride to drivers and passengers. But this can prove dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists who may be unaware they are walking or cycling right into the path of an oncoming hybrid because there is none of the “usual” sounds associated with running vehicles. This is a particular concern for blind or visually impaired pedestrians, who rely on the noise of the environment they are in to safely maneuver. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), all electric and hybrid vehicles must be equipped with external speakers which will emit an alert until the vehicle begins moving at a speed over 18.6 m.p.h. These sounds will alert those pedestrians and cyclists of the vehicle’s presence.

The NHTSA stated that the alerts are not necessary at higher speeds because the sounds of the vehicles’ tires and/or wind noise are loud enough and serve as a warning.

Mandated by Congress, the new rules require vehicle manufacturers to begin installing these alerts in all quiet vehicles by September of 2019. The rules apply to hybrid and electric cars, SUVs, trucks and buses weighing up to 10,000 pounds. Projections by the NHTSA are that these alerts will prevent 2,400 injuries per year.

The NHTSA also projected that, although the price of installing the alerts will cost automakers $39 million per year, it will save between $250 million to $320 million in reduced injuries.

Many pedestrian accidents often result in severe or fatal injuries for the victim because of the massive weight of the vehicles which hit the victims. Our Virginia auto accident attorneys have successfully handled many personal injury claims and wrongful death claims brought forward by victims of pedestrians accidents or their families.

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