- NHTSA has launched an investigation to determine whether EVs and hybrids dating back to 1997 should emit the same audible pedestrian warning sounds that their more recent counterparts have.
- The federal safety agency previously passed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 141, which requires that all 2020 model year and newer electric and hybrid vehicles under 10,000 pounds be equipped with a pedestrian warning sound.
- If NHTSA decides to pass a new requirement for older models, it could pose a logistical challenge, as an estimated 9.1 million vehicles could be on the recall list for retrofitted pedestrian warnings.
In the ways in which they differ from conventional internal-combustion-engine vehicles, electric cars and hybrids don’t sound alike. They’re cool—and that could be a security issue. There’s been a law on the books for several years requiring new EVs and hybrids to be sold with a pedestrian warning sound. Now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched a new investigation to determine whether EVs and hybrids made after 1997 should be required to sound the same audible warning sound that newer vehicles do.
The investigation is credited with starting with a petition from an individual filed in July 2022. The complaining citizen asks about the new requirement and states as backup that the 2018 law (FMVSS 141) requires EVs and hybrids under 10,000 pounds to be equipped with a pedestrian restraint. Alert sound. The petition claims that it is unfair for earlier hybrid and electric vehicles not to meet the same standards as later vehicles.
The law was created as a protection for visually impaired and blind people who rely on auditory signals when crossing streets. NHTSA documents note that this concern dates back to at least 2010, with the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, which became law in January 2011.
NHTSA estimates that there are more than nine million hybrid and electric vehicles that do not have built-in audible alerts; All of these could potentially be subject to a retrofit rule, which is likely to pose logistical challenges for both automakers and owners of older vehicles.
Take the Takata airbag recall, where about 70 million airbags needed to be replaced for safety reasons. Honda and other automakers have spent years finding owners of older models to bring their vehicles in for the new airbags. The logistical lift required to track down each of the more than nine million owners of 26-year-old hybrids and EVs could complicate and ultimately fall short of total perfection. NHTSA declined to comment because the investigation is ongoing.
associate news editor
Jack Fitzgerald’s love for cars stems from an unsettled yet unstoppable addiction to Formula 1.
After a brief stint as a detailer for a local dealership group in college, he knew he needed a more sustainable way to drive all the new cars he couldn’t afford and turned to auto writing. I decided to pursue my career. By bugging his college professors at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, he was able to travel to Wisconsin looking for stories in the auto world before getting his dream job. car and driver, His new goal is to delay the inevitable demise of his 2010 Volkswagen Golf.