PEAT Blog

U.S. Department of Transportation Seeks Public Comment on Options for Electric Car Warning Sounds

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is currently seeking feedback about whether drivers should have the ability to choose between a pre-set list of sounds that alert pedestrians to the presence of electric and hybrid cars when traveling at low speeds. The notice of proposed rulemaking also asks whether NHTSA should impose limits on the number of sounds that manufacturers may install.

The proposed rule would create an amendment to the 2018 rule that requires electric and hybrid vehicles to emit an audible noise when traveling below 20 mph to warn pedestrians of their approach, particularly people who are blind or have low vision. Electric cars are significantly quieter than cars with internal combustion engines and create minimal noise when traveling at low speeds. Manufacturers in the United States must comply with these rules by 2020, and many have already selected sounds.

The deadline for comments is November 1, 2019, and the summary for the notice of proposed rulemaking is listed below.

Submit a public comment

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141, Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (RIN:2127-AL93)

The NPRM proposes to amend FMVSS No. 141, Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles, to allow manufacturers of hybrid and electric vehicles (HEVs) to install a number of driver-selectable pedestrian alert sounds in each HEV they manufacture.  The proposal responds to a petition for reconsideration of the FMVSS No. 141 final rule published December 14, 2016. NHTSA is proposing to remove the limit to the number of compliant sounds that a manufacturer may choose to install in a vehicle.  Drivers would be able to select the sound they prefer from the set of sounds installed in the vehicle.  NHTSA is also seeking comment on whether interested parties believe that the agency should establish a limit to the number of compliant sounds from which a driver may select that a manufacturer may choose to install in a vehicle.