Sound Alert System Issue for Hybrids and EVs Reaches New Level of Absurdity

By · March 08, 2011

Toyota Audio Alert

With scant evidence that hybrid and electric vehicles pose a genuine danger to blind pedestrians, children or the elderly, the federal government is working on final rules for a new law requiring a sound alert system for these quieter cars. Controversy about the issue reached a new level of absurdity in recent weeks as it caused the delay of bringing two new electric-drive vehicles to market.

There are currently nearly 2 million hybrid gas-electric cars on U.S. roads, none of which have artificial external systems to produce warning sounds. Advocacy organizations for the blind say that electric cars are more dangerous, and require special sounds to alert pedestrians as they approach, especially at low speeds.

Deliveries of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid were postponed from January until April. Why? Because the sound warning device—which mimics the sound of a conventional engine—was designed to give drivers the ability to turn off the warning system. Apparently, pending rules from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will prohibit carmakers from allowing drivers to switch off the sounds.

Meanwhile, Nissan has slightly delayed delivery of the Nissan LEAF to customers in the United Kingdom. Why? Because its pedestrian warning system cannot be shut off. Apparently, UK law states that such sounds must be capable of being turned off between the hours of 11:00 pm and 6.00 am.

So, the reason given for why the Sonata Hybrid is delayed in the U.S. is the opposite reason for why the LEAF is delayed in the U.K.—and vice versa.

It’s unclear if swapping the two vehicles’ approach to artificial external audio for the two markets will resolve the issue—or what will happen to the Infiniti M35 Hybrid, another new model already featuring its own type of pedestrian alert system. Last fall, Toyota, the world's biggest producer of hybrids, announced that a sound alert will be available for the Prius and upcoming Prius Plug-in Hybrid in Japan. The entirely optional feature, emitting a synthesized electric motor sound, costs about $150.

At this stage, three things about this issue are certain. One: There is no independent conclusive study that proves that hybrids and electric cars pose a threat to pedestrians, or that making them noisier will mitigate any danger. Two: The lack of global standards for how to address a potential problem is causing confusion for carmakers, and delaying product from reaching consumers. And three: The issue is not going away.


· Jon (not verified) · 7 years ago

Why not have a system trigger by a device the pedestrian is carrying? In short blind people could carry a device that sent out a signal to a range of say 100'. When a vehicle was in range two things would happen, first the car would emit a noise and second a dashboard light or something would go on. Even better augment this with a system to notify the driver when an emergency vehicle (fire/police) are nearby with lights on by turning on a dashboard light or even an audible alert.

· · 7 years ago

All vehicles already have an audible pedestrian warning system. It's a momentary-on system with the switch located in the center of the steering wheel. Ask any New Yorker, they know where it is... and they'll tell you it does nothing. Alternatively, I want my EV to play a recording of a straight-piped V8...

And I thought the Leaf's VPS COULD be shut off, although it would turn itself back on every time the car is turned on?

· Jesse (not verified) · 7 years ago


That's what the online manual said when I read it a few weeks ago, that you could turn off the sound, but that it would be reactivated each time the car was powered on.

But, yeah, the whole thing is ridiculous.

I sneak up on people all the time in my Prius. I have yet to come close to running anyone over.

· · 7 years ago

There are close to 400 quiet MINI-E's on the roads in the US and they have logged over 3,000,000 miles and the last time I checked with my BMW contacts, not one has been involved in a pedestrian/vehicle accident.

As Brad said "There is no independent conclusive study that proves that hybrids and electric cars pose a threat to pedestrians, or that making them noisier will mitigate any danger", that about say's it all.

· · 7 years ago

As I've said before, I think it would be fun to be able to upload "cartones" to EVs in order to satisfy silly noisemaking requirements in creative ways. I want an "old clunker car" cartone! It should be complete with finicky ignition sounds, squeaking belts, a sputtering engine with a lousy muffler, and occasional backfires. In other words, a nice reminder of what we are getting away from.

· Craig (not verified) · 7 years ago

I don't know about you, but I HAVE noticed pedestrians surprised by a Prius in a parking lot (sneaking up on them), nevertheless I do NOT like the idea of noise makers being forced down our throats. Driving a peacefully quiet car is one of the nice perks you get from Hybrids. As long as this system is required, the smart car maker will give the user a choice of sounds. If my Prius is forced to make noise, I want to be able to choose the sound of a V8, with a loping race cam. That would turn some heads:)

· · 7 years ago

@abasile, I completely agree. I'd go with a sci-fi themes cartone myself...

· EvDriver (not verified) · 7 years ago

I've had my electric car for about 3 years now and have never had an issue with running someone over, the tires make enough noise on the pavement to signal that a vehicle is moving and it's one of the many appealing parts of driving an electric car, they are quite! but when all else fails and someone is talking on their cell phone or has head phones in, you use your horn, it's a standard required safety item on every car on the road.

· GadgetGav (not verified) · 7 years ago

Both my in-law are deaf. I think the deaf lobby needs to get on board and take this to a new level of absurdity. These deadly EVs and Hybrids need to have strobe lights fitted so that deaf people know they're approaching!
Why does the UK insist that the noise maker be turned off at night? Are regular cars and trucks silent during the hours of darkness? Is the artificial noise much louder than a regular car?
Laws like this, that are just nonsense to anyone with half a brain are what give politicians a bad name. Can't they just think about an issue and come up with a workable, useful solution, rather than pandering to whoever lobbied them loudest, last or with the most money?

· Coastal Eddie (not verified) · 7 years ago

These regulations are about as practical as the regulations that were enacted when the first cars hit the road. In some areas when a car was approached by a horse drawn wagon, the driver was literally required by law to "disassemble" the car until the horse passed to avoid frightnening the animal. I don't know how that worked out. But we all know what part of the horse some politicians resemble.

· · 7 years ago

Brad, I'll add another thing to your list of "certainties" so far -->
Absolutely no one has given any significant thought to, or researched, the collective noise effect of thousands of EVs zooming around urban areas with artificial sound makers.

Think NYC, skyscrapers and tons of echo!

My favorite EVs-outfitted-with-ridiculous-artificial-noises moment of the future: Thousands of EVs/hybrids backing up at the same time in the parking lot/ parking garage outside a major sports stadium after a game. How this cacophony of artificial noise is going to make anyone safer is beyond me...

· Bill McFadden (not verified) · 7 years ago

I want mine to sound like the Jetsons' car.

At some point, it may be cheaper to issue portable radar detectors to all blind citizens than require all cars to be noisy.

· · 7 years ago

It's all FUD...


· Max Reid (not verified) · 7 years ago

So if Hybrids are so quiet and smooth, why is the media comparing Prius with Corolla in the 1st place.

This whole thing is done by Oil companies to stop the Hybrid sales. They know pretty sure that when Koreans launch their Hybrids at lower cost, the cost of Hybrids go down and become a mass market product especially with gas prices so high. So Oil companies are using whatever means they want to stop Hybrids.

A typical Hybrid car driver drives very slowly and cautiously and does not race ignoring pedestrians.

· · 7 years ago

Really? Fake noise? Very silly! I'm glad that my Altima is quiet in EV mode.

· JJJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

I'm extremely disappointed to see this website attack a tiny safety feature that WILL save lives.

"I have an EV, and Ive yet to kill anyone" is NOT a valid piece of evidence.

The fact is, EVs, under 15mph are inaudible. The blind, when crossing streets, rely on the noise to know when it is safe. There are 35,000 americans killed every year by cars. The fact is, driving is not safe, and not everyone is courteous.

"I will gladly stop for a blind person waiting to cross".
Good for you. Not everyone is as nice and pays as much attention. Tina is too busy reading her text messages to notice the blind lady, and since shes driving at 10mph, thinks nothing will come of not looking at the road.

HONKING at a blind person is not only insulting, it's also illegal in most places. Requiring the blind to carry special devices is even more absurd.

I don't understand how having your car emit a soft noise is a hassle. The driver is inside an insulated box and can't hear a thing.

Let's let the people that actually know what the blind need to live a safe life decide and not a snarky uninformed opinion, ok?

· · 7 years ago

JJJ: Your opinion is as valid as anyone's here, welcome to the discussion. All most of us in the EV community have asked for is to conduct a comprehensive study to see if electric cars do in fact pose an increased risk, that's all. If there is credible evidence that can support it, then I think most will agree it's for the best. However that's not what has happened here. Politicians have rushed to convict before hearing ANY facts.
Have you stood next to a new Lexus lately as it coasted by you at 20 mph? You cannot hear anything other than the tires rolling on the road unless it is under acceleration. Most pedestrian accidents happen at low speed in urban environments where cars aren't driving very fast and are coasting along often.
If they are going to single out EV's then they should also consider making some of the ultra quiet luxury cars have an artificial sound maker for low speed driving also. Let the shouting match begin!

· simon@syd (not verified) · 7 years ago

Get a coathanger and poke it in the spokes of the wheel. Works great.

· · 7 years ago

I've had Leaf for a week - it has VSP. It has also a switch to disable it after startup. I'm yet to press that switch. Definitely doesn't bother me (or rather I've never heard it). Probably when the weather is warm and the window is down ...

· Aquaris (not verified) · 7 years ago

I have rode by on my bicycle and touched my co-worker on the head while he was on the phone with his girlfriend , he screamed like a girl. but seriously, we should do a study and find a reasonable volume that would attract attention, say 60db at 50ft. for ALL cars. Also a uniform standard of tires rolling on gravel, changing in pitch to the speed would make the car very predicable for the blind, bicyclist and the casual pedestrian. Perhaps even stereo, one speaker in front of each wheel would also help for distance prediction before the pedestrian or bicyclist looked?

· Mark (not verified) · 7 years ago

Why don't the UK lawmakers care about blind insomniac pedestrians?? In all seriousness I have to agree with Tom. There are many ICE cars now on the market that you can't hear coming either. As the technology improves this will be the case more often than not and it may become an issue that needs to be dealt with on all car types (not to mention scooters and bicycles). One of the big advantages of EV's is the reduced noise pollution and it seems a shame to then artificially create it.

· JJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

I was looking forward to less polution noise in the future but now we'll have more beeping and no muffler sounds.
With ICE cars they have to wait till xxx amount of people die before they fix a real problem but here no one has died.

· · 7 years ago

The uk requirement is for the beeping reverse sound which is very loud, annoying for your sleeping neighbors and illegal to be used at night. Not the pedestrian warning sound. Don't over sensationalize the issue.

As a cyclist in a busy city I am completely in favor of requiring electrical cars to make a sound. When navigating through busy traffic you will use your hearing as an important indicator of where the cars are around you. I have had a lot of near misses with cars whose drivers were on their mobile phones and when I hear that a car is approaching from the rear it will prompt me to keep an eye on it just in case the drivers decides to do something silly which will damage his paint and deprives my kids of a father.

· · 7 years ago

I'd like all of you folks who want noise to consider something: Is it the lack of noise from the EV or is it the abundance of excessive noise from all of the other vehicles around blocking the noise from the EV that is why you might not hear it?
Also, regarding JJJ's assertion that the blind rely on hearing cars in order to cross the street: There is a word for a blind person who has tried to cross a street relying solely on the sound of automobiles - Road Kill. Blind people who want to live for a while in a world filled with deadly automobiles only cross the street at controlled intersections with stoplights or stopsigns where there is a reasonable chance that cars will have stopped. Relying on hearing a vehicle approaching to cross is just plain suicide. An ICE car cruising at 30 - 50 mph really can't be heard until it is too late to decide whether to cross a street.
I live on a very quiet street and I hate the thought that I'll disturb my neighbors when I have to enter or leave my driveway late at night or early in the morning.
This safety nonsense is just another attempt to slow EVs from replacing ICE that is supported by some naive EV supporters as well, just as the early attempts to hinder ICE that Coastal Eddie talks about or the requirements for someone to walk in front of a car with a lamp to clear the way.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

Give me a break! The fact is with or without engine running when a 2000 lbs object moving on the pavement will produce noise, it just a matter of how loud. Tire noise, wind noise and noise from the ventilating fan..etc. A normal human being walks across road or sidewalk don't rely on hearing, the spices that rely on sound extincted about 5 years after the first automobile introduced in our world! Only the blind is rely on sound when cross interestions, that is why we install buzzer in the controlled intersections!

· · 7 years ago

For those of you that may think this is just one more example of big oil/big auto conspiracy, I can assure you it is not. This may sound (excuse the pun) ridicules but is quite common. The government and NHTSA has a long history of either not being fast enough to require safety items or being too fast and requiring safety features that are not needed or are implemented incorrectly as to cause more problems then they fix. A classic example is air bags. It took the government over 10 years to start listening to the automotive companies when they said that the air bags were being deployed too fast or when not necessary, thus resulting in increases in injuries and even deaths in some cases. The government has required that all cars have stability control and all trucks have roll mitigation systems but have not provided any minimum performance requirements on the systems. There is conflicting requirements in the US and Europe on when to turn the rear brake lamps on during stability control braking events (The US requires that the lights must not come on and Europe requires that the lights must come on or vise versa, I don't recall which way it is). They just passed a law requiring all vehicles have back up cameras by 2014. This is estimated (by NHTSA) to cost somewhere between 6 million and 70 million dollars per life saved (about 1/3 children).

If you take the latter as an example, NHTSA has put at least 6 million dollars on a life. This number is significantly higher than the cost/life saved for the sound alert system if it only saves one life assuming it costs about $10 to put this on a car and 500,000 EVs are sold per year. Not that I am justifying this since I personally think this is stupid.

The only other comment I have on this is that there is no statistics on injuries and only little statistics on pedestrian deaths. Since this is mostly a low speed feature I would expect that this may reduce more injuries and not necessarily deaths. And I would also not necessarily blame the blind because there are a lot more walking texters out there that may benefit from this. It is easier to use a "handicap" group than a bunch of stupid people that are not paying attention.

· · 7 years ago

> I don't know about you, but I HAVE noticed pedestrians surprised by a Prius in a parking lot <
Being surprised and being in danger of harm are wildly different issues. Just because a pedestrian is surprised at suddenly noticing a Prius doesn't mean that the Prius was just inches away from running them down. It only means that the pedestrian was relying on old fashioned clues, and needs to be more alert when walking around multi-thousand pound vehicles.

· · 7 years ago

> Why not have a system trigger by a device the pedestrian is carrying? <
Because that would require personal responsibility.

· · 7 years ago

@JJJ -

>I'm extremely disappointed to see this website attack a tiny safety feature that WILL save lives.<
How will noise makers save lives? The noise of gas cars doesn't seem to be doing the trick as we'll see later. Loud cars are running over people at an alarming rate. Maybe driver education and real licensing makes more sense than belling the hybrids?

> "I have an EV, and Ive yet to kill anyone" is NOT a valid piece of evidence.<
It is no better and no worse evidence than saying added noise " WILL save lives."

> The fact is, EVs, under 15mph are inaudible.<
The fact is that all EVs make noise. They make as much noise as a modern luxury gasoline car at 15 mph. When holding still they also make noise. When riding my bike, I can not only hear, but also identify the brand of hybrid in EV mode... or EV that coasts up behind me at a red light. And my hearing isn't all that great! From my office, I can tell when my EV is "on" in the garage... and parked.

>The blind, when crossing streets, rely on the noise to know when it is safe.<
My suggestion is that they come up with a better means of staying safe. There are many available that are effective and proven. Having every "quiet" car make sound is not one of them.

> There are 35,000 americans killed every year by cars.<
Ah. Here we are. Were any of these 35,000 Americans killed by EVs or hybrids? If come the Americans didn't hear or see them coming and get out of the way? If a driver is intend on running somebody down, it doesn't matter what they're driving. If the driver is good at NOT running people down - it also doesn't matter what they're driving. See where I'm headed here?

> Requiring the blind to carry special devices is even more absurd. <
If you ignore everything else I write - I hope you will at least answer this: How could it possibly be considered absurd for the blind to take control of their own safety instead of insisting that everybody else - the owners of millions of EVs and hybrids - pay for (both financially and in noise pollution) noise makers that have not been proven to make blind people safer? Really? You don't think it should be up to the blind to protect themselves appropriately? It is up to the rest of the world?

> I don't understand how having your car emit a soft noise is a hassle. The driver is inside an insulated box and can't hear a thing.<
Many of us are OUTside that box. Like the blind pedestrians that we're concerned about here? If we try to make everything heard above everything else, how does that make us safer? Imagine a room full of people all wanting to be heard above the others. The problem isn't how quiet EVs are. The problem is how loud everything else is.

> Let's let the people that actually know what the blind need to live a safe life decide and not a snarky uninformed opinion, ok?<
Who are these people who know? How do they deal with quiet gas cars? How do they deal with bicycles? Other pedestrians? How about pusher buses where the noise maker is a good two car lengths behind the front bumper? Maybe we should instead talk to long-time EV drivers to see how they've managed not to run anybody down. They blind don't have experience with EVs. EV drivers don't have much experience with the blind. We should get them together instead of making WAG's about what's best for everybody.

Don't mistake being snarky with being wrong.

· JJJJJJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

First of all, I am the JJJ above and NOT the JJ. Ive added more Js to this reply to make the distinction clear.

Tom Moloughney, I completely agree. Instead of passing a law saying "All EV cars must do this" while ignoring equally silent hydrogen cars (for example), the law should simply say, any car must make x dbs of noise when moving at 20mph or less to a distance of y feet.

ex-EV1 driver, you have no idea what you're talking about. The blind do NOT just cross at signalized intersections with beeping signals, that's ludicrous. What about roundabouts? What about intersections controlled by stop signs? What about small residential streets?

The law isnt about 50mph unsignalzied crosswalks, it's about crossing the 25mph local street to get to the park, or navigating curb cuts on the sidewalk.

"I live on a very quiet street and I hate the thought that I'll disturb my neighbors when I have to enter or leave my driveway late at night or early in the morning."

And again, no one is asking for truck-style beeping. Just a small noise that will MATCH what an ICE car makes at 15mph.

If your current car doesn't disturb your neighbors, nor will your EV with "wooshing" noise.

"Because that would require personal responsibility."

This comment must be a joke, because it is too obscene to be rational. I guess anyone in a wheelchair should carry around a ramp, because it's personal responsibility to ensure the wheelchair can mount any sidewalk curb.

· JJJJJJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

How could it possibly be considered absurd for the disabled to take control of their own safety and comfort instead of insisting that everybody else - the owners of millions of businesses - pay for ADA features that have not been proven to make disabled people safer? Really? You don't think it should be up to the disabled to protect themselves appropriately? It is up to the rest of the world?

Curb cuts, textured rumble tiles, beeping traffic signals, ramps, hand rails, elevators, etc all cost billions to benefit a relative few.

Looks like you have a serious issue with the ADA law of 1990 which guarantees equal access to all.

I hope you never find yourself in a situation where you require the use of these ADA features that benefit a relative few.

It seems like your point of view is "I am able bodied and don't rely on noise, screw anyone who does, they're adding $5 to the price of my luxury purchase." I see no reason to address any of the other points brought up by someone with that point of view.

· · 7 years ago

@JJJJJJJ - Outstanding! I knew you could do snarky too!

You make good points.

Yes, I do have some serious issues with several aspects of the ADA. Likely not for the reasons you assume, however. At the risk of inviting the "that's just one example" or "It misses the bigger point" comments, I'll share just one: In the past several years I have had the unfortunate "luck" to witness two able-bodied children BECOME disabled due to placement of required ADA devices in our local playground. One disabling device was a hard, high-backed swing. The other was a steel upside-down L-shaped water fountain (allows wheelchair knees to roll under it - as well as allowing the lower 95% of a 5-year-old to run under it). Allow me to skip over the details that still make me cringe.

You have misrepresented my view, however. I'm the last person who wants to screw somebody who needs assistance to make their way safely through this world. (thanks for thinking the worst of me though!) What I want to do is make them safe while not making others LESS safe at the same time. Why don't we study this thing and come up with a solution that REALLY makes the blind safe - not just something that SEEMS like it'll make them safe? How have we determined that noise makers make the blind safe? You have stipulated that, but there's no hard evidence, is there? I agree that the the blind (and the ipod wearers and the texters) may be startled less often. But I have yet to figure out how they'll be run over less often. And I should add that nobody else has figured that out either. You may accuse me of being callus. But what I want to do is avoid enacting some annoying law for the sake of doing something. And instead concentrate on achieving a goal. My whole point here is to point out the absurdity of this law... and restating that there is no evidence that noise makers will keep the blind safe! This does not mean that "I am able bodied and don't rely on noise, screw anyone who does, they're adding $5 to the price of my luxury purchase." It means I want supporters of this law to really think about what they're supporting.

If making sound is equal to bing safe, why just EVs and hybrids? Why not luxury cars? Why not pusher buses? Why not fuel cell cars? Car makers spend millions to make their expensive cars as quiet as possible. How come those amazingly quiet cars haven't been targeted by this mis-guided plan?

· · 7 years ago

What Darell said "Car makers spend millions to make their expensive cars as quiet as possible. How come those amazingly quiet cars haven't been targeted by this mis-guided plan?" is one of the things that really puzzles many EV advocates.

Without a comprehensive study, there is really no way to know if the EV's, hybrids or quiet ICE vehicles do pose a danger. The fact that we are rushing to legislate without facts is really unfortunate. Then, to simply target vehicles with electric propulsion systems and not even look at the quiet ICE cars as a possible consideration for these pedestrian alerts is ridiculous. If they are really worried about safety, do a study, determine at what noise level pedestrian to vehicle accidents increases (if it does at all) and set that level for all cars, regardless of the fuel they use.

I'm not really in favor of that though, I'd rather we try to make every car quieter and lower the total ambient noise level. That way, we could identify any vehicle simply by the approaching tire noise instead of creating this shouting match.

Three weeks ago I was hit by a car while walking (on my b-day no less). The driver was texting and looking down at her lap as I bounced over her windshield, roof and trunk, landing in the street. I saw her coming, heard her coming and even shouted but I couldn't escape her path as there were 5 foot snow banks lining the street where I was walking. I'll be under the knife to repair my shoulder next month.

Alert driving saves lives. It's the drivers responsibility not to hit people, not the pedestrians (blind or not) responsibility to dive out of the way. I think better driver education and stiffer penalties for not yielding to pedestrians may help. Paying attention, putting down the cell phone, looking both ways, driving a little slower in environments where you encounter pedestrians is much better than making your car make noise.

Oh I'm sorry, but then we'd be implying it's your responsibility when we all know it's the cars fault when someone gets run over.

· james (not verified) · 7 years ago

@Tom: Perfect!

· · 7 years ago

Thanks Tom... and ouch! Get healed up soon!

· · 7 years ago

Tom - Sorry to hear about the accident. Get better soon!

· · 7 years ago

I think darelldd and Tom have pretty well covered nearly everything but I'll add that in my state, it is illegal for anyone, sighted, blind, handicapped, or athlete to cross a street at anything except a controlled intersection and they will write you a ticket for doing so.
I'll also restate that anyone trying to cross a street between intersections or a roundabout (we don't have too many of those here) using only audible cues isn't going to last very long no matter how many draconian laws you put into effect or how much your heart may bleed for them. Adding a silly noisemaker to all EVs may make you feel really good about yourself but there is no evidence that it is going to help anything as darelldd and Tom have clearly pointed out.
Let's stop with the knee jerk, bleeding heart responses and get more serious about solving the problems that really do exist.

· BRANDInsider (not verified) · 7 years ago

It seems to me that there is a LOT of red tape in both of the countries and I think that they should be put in place as a standard feature especially due sound that these vehicles make [barely to none] and even though there isn't a study it just seems the right thing to do.

I really look forward in following up how these brands react to these problems and see who can innovate!

· JJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

I'm just the regular JJ from Canada that's posted on other pages since last year not the JJJJ. :-)

Why not just have the radio on while we drive?
Even with the windows closed, pedestrian can still hear the radio.
And winter tires can be quite noisy too.
And I still like my idea of a pedestrian horn button.

Good luck and get well soon Tom.

· · 7 years ago

> And I still like my idea of a pedestrian horn button.
Yes indeed. This worked perfectly in the past (EV1 pedestrian alert feature) and should be included on ALL cars no matter the fuel. At low speeds, the flash-to-pass stalk makes a happy blurping sound and flashes the high beams. Nothing like laying on the horn. This IS one of the best solutions to the problem, and one that I've heard no resistance to. But then nobody has asked what might have already been tested and found effective in the real world...

I don't mean to take "your" idea away from you, JJ! But the EV1 had this in 1996, and the current Volt has this feature. Something that GM nailed.... and is getting very little credit for.

· · 7 years ago

Unfortunately, the unintended consequence of all these "mandatory requirements" is to strengthen the standing of the incumbent automakers.
This is exactly why Tesla has had to go to the high end in order to be able to afford to make a certified automobile and nobody else has succeeded since the mandatory requirements started being levied.
The incumbents, as we've seen, just want to maximize their own profits by continuing to sell the same thing they've tooled up to produce. This, in turn, has greatly slowed down the rollout of alternatives.
I, and many others looked for ways to start an EV company back in the '90's and never saw a way. It required a dot-com billionaire throw his money into a company planning to use a high-end sports car to launch their company, despite the unlikely high return on his money. Tesla, of course, still hasn't even proven it can sustain and grow down-market yet.
There is a chance that some regulation may save a blind person relying on hearing approaching cars before stepping into a street. All of the "mandatory regulations" forced onto the automobile industry by the government have a chance to do some good. Unfortunately, there is no accountability or even recognition of the bad unintended consequences of such government meddling. The number of lives we and other countries have lost because of oil is a real number and is likely to only grow as oil supplies diminish and climates change.
Let's get our priorities straight here and quit supporting feel-good measures that mainly serve to prop up the incumbents and start reducing regulations. We might not be able to afford the alternative.

· · 7 years ago

Thanks for all the get well wishes, but I'm really OK. I somehow tore my rotator cuff while flailing around up and over the car. Had some cuts and bruises but I'm in one piece. Worst part is, she kept going. No I didn't get the plate (believe me it's not what's going through your mind when you see a car is about to hit you) It was a late model corolla and the driver was just looking down at her lap and completely not paying attention (I assume she must have been texting or reading one) and the front end is low so I was able to jump up a bit and avoid a direct impact form the front bumper. In any event, I'm fine except for the shoulder.

This really ties into this conversation here though. It seems like we are just admitting we cannot be alert drivers so we need to install all kinds of features in the cars to overcome our stupidity. We're just shifting the blame. I even see Volvo is working on a system that will automatically apply the brakes if a pedestrian walks out in front of your car. It will have the power to override what the driver is doing and aggressively stop the car. Sure it may have stopped me from being hit so in that regard it is a good thing, but it's like we are just giving up, realizing we aren't responsible enough to pilot a car safely on our own so we need the car to make a loud warning noise, brake by itself, etc. Can't we just be better/safer drivers? If we had a huge public awareness campaign like MADD did in the 80's and 90's I'm sure we can get it in the heads of our new drivers just how important it is to be alert with eyes on the road at all times. I think that would save more lives than any artificial alert will. Just my 2 cents.

· · 7 years ago

@darelldd, My preference would be for a driver controlled "bicycle bell" sound. It isn't as obnoxious as a horn (which I never, ever, use). The GM solution seems very good, but I like abasile's idea of "cartones" best.

· · 7 years ago

I don't remember who first suggested "cartones", but I figure if the government is going to force us to drive around with noisemakers we might as well have some fun with it. I do very much agree with Tom about the need for personal responsibility and alert driving, though.

As for texting while driving, that is stupid enough that I think the penalty should be no cellular network access for a certain period of time. If our government is determined to come up with new legislation, they should focus on that problem instead of picking on EVs and hybrids.

· · 7 years ago

> My preference would be for a driver controlled "bicycle bell" sound. <
For my money, I'd want it to be obviously NOT a bicycle sound. The response to "car!" and "bike!" are and should be different. The GM pedestrian warble is really great. Try it, you'll like it!

> I like abasile's idea of "cartones" best. <
Only if they aren't constant and automatic! But the reality of it is that we need something relatively consistent that says, "car!" And if we can use our own tones, it'll likely be ignored like a cell phone ringer.

The GM warble is the electronic equivalent of saying, "excuse me" as you pass by somebody blocking the supermarket isle. The "automatic noisemaker" solution would be like all of us constantly muttering "excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, excuse me" the whole time they're shopping just in case somebody gets in our way at some point during the day. I wonder how effective that would be...

· JJJJJJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

darelldd, Im sorry to hear about those kids being injured like that.

As I said above, I completely agree that any law should say "every vehicle must produce x amount of dbs that can be heard from y feet away" so that luxury vehicles, hydrogen vehicles etc are all covered.

I still don't understand being against the requirement. Inside the car, you won't notice it. OUTSIDE the car you wont notice it any more than the engine noise of every other car.

Again, I dont want the truck-backing-up beeping noise, just a swoosh or rumble, like that of an ICE.

ex-EV1 driver, you are completely wrong about your state law regarding controlled intersections and legal crossing points. Go ahead and name the state, and it will take me all of 5 minutes to pull of the applicable statute. Protip: Unmarked crosswalks exist everywhere, even across 6 lane megastreets.

And there may not be many roundabouts near you now, but theyre all the rage and are being built in every state. They are explicitly designed so that the blind can distinguish between traffic coming from different directions by LISTENING.

· · 7 years ago

> I still don't understand being against the requirement <
I apologize for not being more clear. I won't clutter up this post with extraneous stuff.

I'm against the requirement because:
. More noise doesn't make (hasn't made) anybody safer.
. More noise might make people FEEL safer, at the expense of actually doing something that really makes us safer.
. More noise is an annoyance to just about everybody.
. More noise can mask other activities that we should be aware of: Other pedestrians, other cyclists, other quiet cars.
. Adding (or having to modify) the noise makers has already delayed the roll out of electric cars - meaning that more gasoline is being burned that makes us all less "safe" and less healthy.
. Noise makers don't solve the problem of cars being a danger to all of us. Loud cars kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. Should we not work on the real problems instead of making up new ones?
. This entire discussion adds to the general feeling of, "Electric cars should be feared." One more reason to continue with the status quo. The longer we burn gasoline, the worse off we all are.

I can hear EVs. Guide dogs can hear EVs. The two blind folks I know in my community can hear EVs. I could hear them better if we had an ordinance that put an upper limit on how much sound any vehicle can make.


· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 7 years ago

Hi Tom... That accident where the woman didn't notice she hit you is really sickening. She maybe even had earbudphones on, too not to hear hitting you. How many people will she have to run over before someone takes away her driver's license? This is insane. She's a menace to society.

About your shoulder: I have had left shoulder pain for years.
Doctors told me different stories: tendonitis, rotator cuff injury, bursitis, pinched nerve in my neck.

So here are my shoulder tips:

1- don't sleep on that side

2- do arm circles front and back.

3- bend over, supporting the ok side with your arm on your knee and the ok side's foot on a step stool.
Hang the injured shoulder's arm like a vertical pendulum and do rotations clockwise and anticlockwise. (Dr Oz's tip)
I now use a 10 lbs dumbell to do that every morning.

4- when watching TV use a gel ice pack on it and even alternate hot and cold.

I don't believe in doctors and surgery that's why I tell you this.

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 7 years ago

That's good news Darell about the GM Volt's warning system.
Myself, I'd prefer a nice red button to the right of my steering wheel pad about the size of a 25 cent coin.

It would be even funnier if we could have a dial with different car tones like burping, gas, etc but I'll stay serious and go for the warbler sound.

Even if we had permanent car tones making more noise won't solve anything. Some people walk around with earphonebuds so they wouldn't hear the permanent sound.

This noise argument is the same as the no muffler motorcycle yahoos who drive around: "look at me I'm making lots of noise".
My exhaust pipe is louder that yours insanity.
It doesn't help if everyone is making noise.

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 7 years ago

And specifically for blind people; couldn't there device that would vibrate when a car is coming. It could even be directional.

The blind person could wear it on their wrist like a watch and move their hand in different directions before crossing a street and it would tell them if a car is coming.

It could maybe pick up the electric signal from an oncoming car.
If it's not too complicated to do - I don't know.

· · 7 years ago

The state is the US State of California where every crosswalk is a controlled crosswalk and all automobiles are required to stop if a pedestrian steps off the curb. Go ahead and pull the laws - I'm too lazy to.
What you suggest isn't crazy and IMHO (as an electrical engineer), might have lot of merit and make the lives of the blind better and safer from ICE vehicles or EVil EVs. A simple doppler radar, similar to what a police officer uses to catch speeders could be modified to be a bit more user-friendly and not so directional (the blind person really doesn't care which car is about to hit him/her. It would probably have to have about a 1/4 mile range.

· · 7 years ago

Again, catering to an extreme minority, but as with most of these issues where there is a perceived "victim" we are bound and gagged. Who can tell granny to shut up and pay more attention on her 5 minute walk to the craft store. Certainly not the shallow thirty-something six figure lawyer or day trader in his $50,000 EV trying to listen to his Crystal Method in perfect quality without wanting to worry about Matilda. As EV enthusiasts we will always look the villain on a feel good issue like this. But, as I've said before I am a gosh darn meanie.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 7 years ago

I think that not only should hybrids and electrics make sounds like an internal combustion engine they should also spew exhaust gases and drip oil so that no one has to adjust their sensory awareness. The last thing we want is for anything to change.

I think the real question is "Do blind folk get hit by cars anymore often that sighted folk?" (percentage-wise). I have no idea what the stats are on this. If blind folk have a lower percentage then I don't quiet cars will affect anything (something else is at work). If the percentage is higher then today's cars will to be fitted with foghorns. It the percentage is about the same then some tests need to be run to see what impact quiet cars will really have.

· JJJJJJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

ex-EV1 driver, you dont understand california law, but I dont blame you, many of the traffic laws are badly written.

California law says:

21955 CVC – Crossing Between Controlled Intersections - Between adjacent intersections controlled by traffic control signal devices or by police officers, pedestrians shall not cross the roadway at any place except in a crosswalk.

The key here is "traffic control signal device" and "intersection"

1) A stop sign is not a traffic control SIGNAL device.
2) Alleys are included under the california definition of intersection, as of course, are t-intersections

SO, if you are between two intersections, but one or both of them are NOT controlled by a traffic SIGNAL, than it is legal to cross at ANY point. Unless there is a sign stating otherwise.

Don't bother arguing with me about YOUR interpretation of the law, because the only interpretation that matters is what case law says, and case law has ruled as I stated above.

So a blind person does not need to proceed to a signalized intersection to cross.

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 7 years ago

And the woman who ran over Tom probably brags to everyone: "Women can multi task better than men."
It's so crazy that she didn't even notice and kept on driving because of her texting - multitasking.

· · 7 years ago

JJ: She knew. There is no way she couldn't have. I think she freaked out and drove off. Maybe she didn't have insurance and just panicked realizing how much trouble she was in.

· · 7 years ago

@JJJJJJJJ (Johny Cochran?)
Ok, so perhaps you're right. I'm not a lawyer. I still don't recommend that a blind person attempt to cross any CA road without traffic control (stop sign, light, or crosswalk) by counting on sound alone to protect them. All the laws in the world or proper and improper interpretations aren't going to save them. Law of Gross Tonnage always trumps paper laws.

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 7 years ago

I just heard (again) on TV an hour ago that women are better at multi tasking.
They need to put a yellow sticker on the horn cushion: "Look up at where you are going".

I hope your recovery is going well.

· JJJJJJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

ex-EV1 driver, but again, it depends on what road we're talking about.

Take a local residential street that sees...what, 10 cars an hour? The law logically allows you to cross at any point, and a blind person will certainly want to cross their street to get to a park or something without going 1/4 mile out of their way to a signalized crosswalk.

Thats the type of environment we're talking about. 10-20mph speeds, very little car traffic. Crossing the road for the blind is all about sound.

A 15mph accident may not kill the person...but it may result in thousands of dollars in hospital costs due to a broken knee.

Heres an example of a trip a blind person may make to go to a supermarket in California.

5 minute walk.

Blind person walks down their driveway to edgemont. No sidewalks, so the person must rely on sound to navigate down the side of the street.

Cars will be moving at 15mph or so, EVs are silent, especially if they slow down to pull into their driveway.

Blind person must cross cottage lane to get to the sidewalk, again, must rely on sound to know if cars are entering or leaving the subdivision.

Blind person uses chirping at Perin crosswalk to know when to cross, but relies on hearing to know if some idiot is stopped in the middle of the crosswalk, or is trying to make a right turn on red. Stopped EVs will be completely silent.

Blind person then relies on hearing to cross supermarket driveway entrance. Again, stopped EVs are silent.

· · 7 years ago

I disagree that EVs are silent first of all.
Beyond that, I think that rather than beat up on EVs just because there aren't enough to defend themselves and there is plenty of ICE and Oil money available to support any attacks on them doesn't mean that is the best place to place your money.
persons exiting driveways are required to yield for anyone on the main road, walking or driving so I consider that a controlled intersection. They also often don't stop and coasting ICE slowing down for a turn are generally just as quiet as an EV.
All of your crossings should be at controlled intersections. If the blind person lives here and there aren't crosswalks, I'm pretty sure the city could paint a few.
I definitely think some pressure should be put on the supermarket to put in sidewalks, not only for blind people but for pedestrians in general. I find that suburban strip malls are terrible for pedestrians in general and, if we are going to get away from wasting energy, we should probably make them more pedestrian friendly.
Stopped EVs are silent, but, then stopped vehicles don't hurt people either.

· JJJJJJ (not verified) · 7 years ago

Nobody is beating up on EVs. No, coalitions for the blind are not secretly funded by oil money trying to destroy competition.

They have a valid concern that can be addressed with a $5 solution. It's that easy.

Evs are the future. This needs to be addressed NOW, and not in 10 years when there are already millions of them out on the road.

· · 7 years ago

> They have a valid concern that can be addressed with a $5 solution. It's that easy.

It is? Because you say it is? I'm still not clear on why you are convinced that adding sound is any sort of solution to this concern. Of course I'm also not convinced that it is a *valid* concern. While you've said it many times, and the blind coalitions have said it many times, the hard data we have shows otherwise.

Blind people are not getting run over by things they can't hear. There are plenty of moving things out there that they can't hear any more than an EV... and those things aren't running them over.

I understand that there is a concern. I don't find it valid. And certainly don't see adding sound as a slution to a problem that doesn't even exist. But I'm starting to repeat myself...

You seem like a good guy with your heart in the right place. Now we just need to focus the energy on how to save lives. Let's get gasoline cars off the road as quickly as possible. The fact that they burn gasoline kills thousands of people every year. Let's work toward stopping THAT and really save lives and increase health for everybody - not just one small segment of our population. Adding noise to EVs - slowing down their deployment and adding cost - doesn't help save lives or increase health.

· · 7 years ago

There are huge barriers to trying to get a new technology launched when the incumbent technology is protected so strongly by government mandated laws.
Anything else, even a $5 device, that must be added is going to cause at a minimum 2 engineers for 2 years for a total cost of around $1Million fully loaded.
Additionally, I hate noisemakers on cars, especially backup ones. They cause sound pollution. I'll buy an EV despite it but many won't want these EVs because they make all the dumb noises.
This is beating up on EVs.

· · 7 years ago

JJJJJJJJ: As Ex & Darell have pointed out, EV's are not silent, not by a long shot. In fact a new car, especially luxury cars, coasting at 25 mph makes no more noise than an EV. Unless the car is under acceleration when you hear the engine at higher RPM's, all you head is the tire noise on the pavement as the car approaches, the same as an EV.

We're not driving 60's hot rods with straight pipes. Today's cars are engineered to be as quiet as possible. Yes, under heavy acceleration you can hear the motor, but in low-speed limit side streets where you encounter pedestrians, rarely are cars under heavy acceleration, they are frequently coasting along at 25-30mph, and make very little sound.

I am against these additional noisemakers, but if the government is hell bent on mandating them, than all cars should be tested and a minimum noise threshold should be implemented for all cars, regardless of the fuel used. (I can't believe I'm suggesting that) Set up tests that measure the decibel level of the car traveling at 25mph from 100ft, then 50ft and establish a "safe threshold". I guarantee you there will be a dozen or so ICE cars that test as quiet as the EV's. To single out these cars simply because of their propulsion system is wrong. Test all cars or don't implement anything.

· JJ - from Canada (not verified) · 7 years ago

A few times I've driven up behind a pedestrian who'se walking in the middle of the roadway in a shopping center parking lot,
and they don't hear my ICE car.
I have to gently beep the horn to get them to move to one side.
That's what horns are for.

· · 7 years ago

You'd like the nice feature that the Volt has. When you pull back on the turn signal, in addition to flashing the high-beams, it emits a "friendly" tone, rather than the "WARNING" tone of the horn. While I don't believe it should be mandatory or on all the time (as our safety Nazis are campaigning for), it is a very nice feature GM has added for just what you describe. I used it within the first few seconds that I drove a Volt in order to get it out of the closed-off parking lot where people were just standing in the middle of the road, talking.

· · 5 years ago

This thing will not die! Why does it keep going and going? Who is benefitting from this nonsense?


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