According to a recent government filing obtained by Reuters, U.S. regulators are delaying a ruling on low-speed sound alert requirements for electric and hybrid cars until at least mid-March 2016.
A ruling on this issue has been in the works since 2013, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that the odds of an electric or hybrid vehicle being involved in a crash with a pedestrian are 19% higher compared with a louder gas-powered vehicle. Under its latest form, the regulation would require automakers to add automatic audio alerts to their electric and hybrid vehicles traveling at 18 miles per hour or less. The proposal could reduce pedestrian and bicyclist injuries by 2,800 instances every year.
Once regulators approve the rule, auto manufacturers will have 18 months to implement the audio alert in their vehicles. According to NHTSA in 2013, the agency estimated that the implementation would cost the auto industry about $23 million in the first year.
In anticipation of the law, automakers have been experimenting with different solutions to the issue of sound at low-speed. Tesla CEO Elon Musk even suggested the possibility of a system that could emit a sound only in the direction of passing pedestrians instead of a constant noise.
The problem is even more obvious when it comes to the blind and Fully Charged published a very interesting video on the subject last month.
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