25 October 2010

Bill would require hybrid cars to become noisier

The noise of cars and traffic can sometimes seem overwhelming in cities, but it turns out that a little noise is actually a good thing. A bill is now being considered in congress that would require car makers to add noise to their fuel efficient hybrid cars. The bill is a response to complaints that the cars 'sneak' up on people and pose a danger to pedestrians, bicyclists and the blind.

The legislation, if passed, would be a part of the 2010 Motor Vehicle Safety Act and proposes to require minimum noise levels for future electric cars as a way of alerting pedestrians.

Hybrid cars are virtually silent at low speeds, doubling the risk of accidents. Now engineers who have spent years trying to make cars quieter are trying to come up with appropriate sounds for electric cars.

The Nissan Leaf is considering a bell sound, while GM’s Chevy Volt might be chirping its way down a street near you.

The quietness of the cars is a definite selling point. How consumers will react to the new noisier hybrids remains to be seen.

Robin Lawless | @robmlaw
Robin lives in NYC with her cat Maggie where she follows a vegetarian lifestyle, practices yoga, and volunteers at Catskill Animal Sanctuary. Follow Robin on Facebook

Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/traftery