The days of having an electric car suddenly appear out of nowhere next to you will soon be gone, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) just finalized its “Quiet Car” rule – a law designed to make sure pedestrians don’t get hurt by near-silent electric cars they can’t hear coming. As of 2019, electric vehicles will have to make enough noise at low speeds to let you know they’re coming.
A 2012 analysis by Slate magazine revealed that at speeds below 35 miles per hour, hybrid and electric vehicles are 37 percent more likely to hit pedestrians and 66 percent more prone to colliding with cyclists than your average petroleum-fuelled vehicle. Slate noted in 2012 that a rule to mitigate this danger has been due since 2010, but it wasn’t until this past Monday that the NHTSA has done anything about it. According to CNET, after Sept. 1, 2019 electric vehicles will have to emit a noise any time they travel at speeds slower than 18.6 miles per hour.
The move gives electric car manufacturers a total of three years to integrate a waterproof noise-making device into their vehicles. According to Cnet, some carmakers are already ahead of the curve and have had noisemakers in their electric models for several years – such as the Nissan Leaf and Kia’s Soul EV.
The NHSTA estimates that integrating noise into electric and hybrid vehicles traveling at low speeds will result in about 2,400 fewer injuries to pedestrians and cyclists – or the equivalent of 32 lives saved over the life span of a 2020-model-year vehicle fleet.