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NHTSA Studying Environmental Impact of 'Quieter Cars'

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

NHTSA Studying Environmental Impact of 'Quieter Cars'

July 7, 2011

NHTSA 12-11
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Contact: Karen Aldana
Telephone: (202) 366-9550

Safety agency launches assessment of hybrid and electric vehicles to fulfill Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act

WASHINGTON – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today announced that the agency is taking the first major step toward proposing regulations that will protect unsuspecting pedestrians and the visually-impaired from accidents involving hybrid and electric vehicles.

"America's streets must be safe for everyone who uses them," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "As we improve the environment with cleaner cars, we must also consider how it affects those on bikes and on foot."

Today's action, which is mandated by the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, will help NHTSA lay the groundwork for a proposed rulemaking to help pedestrians detect the presence of quieter vehicles. NHTSA will evaluate the merits of possible rulemakings, including requiring electric and hybrid carmakers to add sounds that alert the visually-impaired and other pedestrians when these vehicles are operating in certain low speed maneuvers.

"Even as we make giant leaps forward with hybrid and electric vehicles, we must remain laser focused on safety," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "With more and more quiet vehicles on the road, we have to consider their effect on pedestrians."

Once the notice is published in the Federal Register, the public will have 30 days to submit comments on this NHTSA action.

Quiet Car Notice of Intent

Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Assessment for Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 Rulemaking

Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), NHTSA plans to analyze the potential environmental impacts of the agency's rulemaking to implement the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010.

The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act mandates a rulemaking to establish a standard requiring electric and hybrid vehicles to be equipped with a pedestrian alert sound system that would activate in certain vehicle operating conditions to aid visually impaired and other pedestrians in detecting the presence, direction, location, and operation of those vehicles.

Vehicle Engine Sounds @ 6 mph

Engine A, City Environment (0:11)
Engine A, Neighborhood (0:12)
Engine B, City Environment (0:11)
Engine B, Neighborhood (0:12)

Proposed Alternatives

Alternative 4 (0:09) Alternative 4 (0:10)

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