Minimizing the sounds made by a car might sound like a good thing until you factor in how that harms visually impaired individuals who rely on those sounds to determine how close they are to traffic and any moving car.


A recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires that hybrids and electric cars now have to make sounds for visually impaired pedestrians when the car is travelling at low speeds. This is colloquially referred to as the quiet car safety rule affecting vehicles with gross vehicle weights of 10,000 lbs. or less.


All the new vehicles built after September 1, 2019 need to have a sound feature that notifies pedestrians in the area when they are moving in reverse or up to 19 miles per hour. Half of all vehicles classified in this category must have this audible warning at least one year prior to the final deadline.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that wind noise and tire noise give appropriate warnings at higher speed. However, the 2010 pedestrian safety enhancement act from Congress indicates that all electric and hybrid vehicles need to meet minimum sound requirements in order to notify visually impaired or blind pedestrians. Up to 2,400 pedestrian injuries may be eliminated entirely as a result of this new rule. As they are classified as some of the most vulnerable road users, it is expected that these audible warnings will notify them when a vehicle is moving near them at low speed but they may not be able to see it. Those individuals hurt in vehicle accidents due to someone else’s negligence may be able to recover benefits in a personal injury claim in California.

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