In 2019 the NHTSA proposed allowing automakers to install a number of driver-selectable sounds of pedestrian alert in “quiet cars.”
Electric vehicles are way much harder to hear at lower speeds than gasoline-powered engines. Under the rules mandated by Congress and finalized by the NHTSA, automakers must add sounds to hybrid and electric vehicles when traveling at speeds of up to 18.6 miles per hour (30 km per hour) to help prevent injuries among the cyclists, the blind, and the pedestrian.
The agency said on Tuesday the proposal “is not being adopted because of lack of supporting data. Removing this restriction would allow manufacturers to make more obscure sounds that only will appeal to a small minority of hybrid electric owners.”
The NHTSA says that wind resistance, tire noise, and other factors eliminate the need for separate alert sounds at higher speeds.
Tesla in February recalled 578,607 U.S vehicles because pedestrians may not be able to hear the required warning sounds of an approaching car due to loud music or other sounds played by its “Boom box” feature.
Tesla said the “Boom Box function” allows sounds to be played through an extreme speaker while the vehicle is in motion and might obscure required Pedestrian Warning System sounds.
NHTSA projected the alerts would prevent 2,400 injuries annually by 2020 and cost the auto industry about $40 million annually because the automakers needed to add an outer waterproof speaker to obey. The benefits of reduced injuries are anticipated at $250 million annually.
The agency estimates that the odds of a hybrid vehicle being involved in a walking crash are 19% higher than a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle. Last year, the number of pedestrians killed jumped 13% `to 7,342, the highest number since 1981. The number of bicyclists killed rose 5% to 985, the highest number since 1975.