New 'Quiet Car' Safety Standard Aimed at Preventing Pedestrian Injuries

man stopped at a crosswalk

The US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced a new safety standard aimed at preventing some 2,400 pedestrian injuries each year. Under the new federal rule, all newly manufactured hybrid and electric light vehicles with four wheels and a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less will be required to make audible noise when traveling forward at speeds up to 19 miles per hour, or at reverse at any speed.

The rule, known as Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141 and prompted by Congress's mandate in the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, is aimed at better protecting pedestrians, particularly those who are blind or have low vision issues.

“We all depend on our senses to alert us to possible danger,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a media release. “With more, quieter hybrid and electrical cars on the road, the ability for all pedestrians to hear as well as see the cars becomes an important factor of reducing the risk of possible crashes and improving safety.”

The sound alert is not required at speeds 20 mph or higher because other factors, such as tire and wind noise, provide an adequate audible warning to pedestrians, safety officials say. Manufacturers have until Sept. 1, 2019, to equip all new hybrid and electric vehicles with sounds that meet the new federal safety standard. Half of the new hybrid and electric vehicles must be in compliance one year before the final deadline.

If you or someone you love suffers an injury or loss as a pedestrian involved in an auto accident, get medical treatment and call 877-798-7700 to speak with a pedestrian accident attorney with Gainesville's Schackow & Mercadante.