Federal officials may force electric and hybrid carmakers to make their vehicles louder. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently proposed a rule that would require car manufacturers to make their hybrids produce more noise when traveling under 18 mph. This is because hybrid and electric car drivers are more likely to be involved in low-speed pedestrian accidents.
“We believe that this difference in accident rates is mostly attributable to the pedestrians’ inability to detect these vehicles by hearing them during these maneuvers,” a NHTSA spokesperson said.
The NHTSA believes that the new rules could prevent almost 2,800 car accidents and save 35 lives every year according to AOL News. Federal car accident statistics show that hybrid cars are 1.33 times more likely to hit a biker and 1.38 times more likely to hit a pedestrian.
It is unclear whether federal regulators have considered whether hybrid car owners may be more likely to live in Chicago and other urban neighborhoods that are heavily populated with pedestrians and cyclists.
Federal regulators plan on proposing a minimum sound requirement for hybrid vehicles but will let manufacturers determine the type of sound and decibel level. Regulators will require that the sounds be of a type that pedestrians and cyclists will recognize as cars.
A final NHTSA rule is not expected until January of 2014.