Safety regarding no motor sound

Safety regarding no motor sound

I'm wondering how Tesla's dealt with the safety issues of not having any engine sounds? I'm thinking about that pedestrians, bicyclists and other cars can have difficulties hearing the car closing in.

I personally am very fond of it being noiseless, but it is a concern I have heard about but not found any info on.

Timo | 3 marts 2015

If you rely on hearing to detect car closing, I say you deserve a Darwin Award.

Car is not noiseless, at low speeds it emits pretty much same amount of noise than any modern silent ICE car, because dominant noise is tire rattle.

At higher speeds (where car driver could actually get surprised by pedestrian jumping in front of the car, say 10mph and above) modern ICE car doesn't make enough noise either to alert pedestrian in time.

That "concern" is made up anti-EV propaganda.

Larry@SoCal | 3 marts 2015

Well stated, Timo.

DonS | 3 marts 2015

EVs and hybrids are not only very quiet at slows speeds, i.e. parking lots, but the noises they do make are not what we expect a car to sound like. Hearing is the primary sensory input for a 360 degree picture, so people have learned the sounds demanding immediate attention. The first time I turned around and found a Prius very close, I was shocked. I've since reprogrammed my behavior to pay attention to a new set of softer sounds, as well as look around a bit more. As always, a parking lot is a high risk area and the driver must be extra cautious. Even if you are not driving a silent car, there are always kids as well as the adults texting while walking.

ray | 3 marts 2015

Basically - ban the push bike. They are noiseless and small enough that can't be seen.
But, no, they have a lobby group.

That's what Tesla needs - a lobby group.

holidayday | 4 marts 2015

I say have an optional low speed sound.

Mine would be the sound of the Jetson's car.


Remnant | 4 marts 2015

This has been discussed on several threads in these Forums.

Some people propose fake noises, such as those resembling an ICE growl. Others have said, just blow the darn horn. Still others have proposed a PA system the driver could use to warn the pedestrians or just play a tune.

NHTSA has drafted noise requirements under 20 mph for EV's and hybrids, in 2013, then postponed their implementation till 2018.

Watt fun | 4 marts 2015

Timo +1
Shima ummm perhaps a zero? (I won't say -1)

No car is silent. Even a hybrid on electric drive at low speed makes motor and tire noise. Most modern well designed and executed ICE--since the days of a fan belt on a pulley running a cooling fan are over--are pretty darn quiet some of them. Similarly, an electric makes noise, just not as much as a V8 with 'cherry bombs' or a diesel with the turbocharger whining.

Its another bit of anti-EV (and hybrid) nonsense.

If there has to be noise at low speed, I'd add Jetson's car noise

wildcatzoo | 4 marts 2015

I say ban all the vehicles that make noise and everyone will have better hearing. More noise is going to make more deaf people, not increase safety.

JeffreyR | 4 marts 2015

This is indeed a [minor] issue in parking lots. In our Prius we would turn on the AC which would kick in the ICE. As @DonS points out people are retraining themselves, so this will become less of an issue over time.

+1 I really like the idea of using a sound effect at low speeds.

Tron (original) Light Cycle Scene

Could this be added to the Frunk? Getting something to play the sound effect would be trivial, but having it play at low speeds automatically would be tricky. No analog speed gauge to plug into. I wonder if there's an App for that?


JeffreyR | 4 marts 2015

Cheap BT Speaker for those wanting to play the Jetsons or Tron Light Cycle sound effect from the frunk:

HMDX HX-P230 Jam Portable Speaker


wildcatzoo | 4 marts 2015

@JeffreyR 0 The original Leaf had a sound that stopped at speeds over 14mph, and a switch to turn it on or off. The default was on. New ones do not allow you to turn this feature off. One reason I won't sell my 2011.

TaoJones | 5 marts 2015

I've surprised the security guards at the entrances more than once (gated community). Come to think of it, this has also happened at the SpaceX/Hawthorne SC - although only one time and it was raining.

I have (as) gently (as possible) honked when approaching certain pedestrians from behind when it appears that they're meandering into the street. Not sure what sound other than the horn is applicable for that.

Otherwise, good old-fashioned loud music (I recommend, possibly at Volume 11 with the sunroof at 75%, all two minutes of "Malignant Narcissism" by Rush) tends to clear rather nicely a parking lot of wandering denizens.

Hey, ya work with what ya got.

Timo | 5 marts 2015

@cmcnestt, if a blind person just suddenly jumps in front of a car he/she deserves an Darwin Award. Blind people don't just trust on hearing, they give driver a warning before crossing a street.

At speeds where car sounds have any meaning it's the drivers responsibility to not run over pedestrians (IE. a very very slow speeds).

I could accept a low-noise (a very very low noise) backing alarm, but not when I drive forward. And ability to cut that alarm off when it isn't needed: I really hate when there is garbage truck backing at 3:00 AM with that BEEP BEEP BEEP. It doesn't need to be even close and it still annoys me.

spacevertex | 5 marts 2015

Timo +1
DonS +1

cmcnestt -1

The issue has to be looked at differently, imagine if ICE cars would never have had taken off and rather it was electric cars that took off a hundred years before after the horse buggy, our society would have found it ludicrous in today' time to allow ICE cars to make all that revving & grumbling and whirring noise.

Noise is not a normal state of being, rather it's an irritant, classified as pollution itself, lack of technology had prevented us from avoiding noise pollution and now that we have the technology, the logic is turned upside down which is ironically regressive.

The onus is on the civil duties of the pedestrian and the driver to follow practises which would allow them to coexist without creating ignorant and rudimentary laws to restrict one another.

If you go to the jungle, you never hear Zebras and Deers complaining that Tigers and Lions have adapted their camouflage to mix in the scene to make hunting for them more effective and spotting them more difficult, rather the prey adepts their sense of sight, sound and smell to nullify the predator' advantage.

Regulators are also swayed by public opinion, let us not shoot ourselves in the foot by voicing half-baked solutions to concerns.

alanwwebb | 5 marts 2015

We tested a Tesla roadster against three ICE cars on a Db meter at 20 and 30 mph. All came in about the same. The main noises made by cars today at those speeds are tire noises. ICE companies have worked assiduously to make their cars quieter, and they've succeeded. If we need more noise in an EV for blind people, we need more noise in ICE cars, too.

There is a difference between EVs and ICE cars under full acceleration because of engine noises and exhaust sounds, but not really any at the normal speeds in parking lots and near crosswalks.

I almost got run over in a parking lot by a Lexus I didn't hear coming. The danger of EV's being too quiet is bogus.

worldtraveller | 5 marts 2015

My wife's Lexus CT200h has a tone generator that makes a humming sound at low speeds.

hdsm | 6 marts 2015

qui peut le plus peut le moins

Red Sage ca us | 7 marts 2015

Heat, sound, vibration, reflection... Lots of different ways for people to sense the presence of a moving vehicle. The notion tha EVs require a special means to make them more readily obvious for those who are not sense impaired is thoroughly ridiculous. Most especially because it ovelooks the fact that there are those who are vision and hearing impaired that deal with such obstacles safely on a daily basis.

JeffreyR | 8 marts 2015

I wasn't saying it was hard for a manufacturer to do. I was saying it would be a challenging automatic retrofit. With a smartphone or BT MP3 paired w/ the speaker in the frunk you could play anything you like w/ just a tap.

That $25 BT speaker would save your ears. You could play any Rush song you like.

I agree everyone should be responsible for taking care for themselves in parking lots and the like. But some folks are either irresponsible/distracted, too young, or have handicaps that make it harder on them. I don't want some law to make noise pollution the required state. It's like the fallacy that "loud pipes save lives." No if everyone drove around with head-ringing exhaust noise you would not be any safer. Better to be quiet so you can hear the other guy start his engine before he cuts you off backing up/pulling out.

You could play a tiger growl, excuse-me cough, Jettsons, Tron, Rush, whatever you like. I would like a subtle backing-up sound effect and a low speed one too. You could be silent.

I don't think Tesla should do any more than create an API for apps to the car and include a charging port in the frunk using USB.

xmak | 29 juni 2015

There was one occasion when I saved my friends life by pulling him back when I heard a car approaching at high speed. And it was the sound of the engine accelerating that I heard, not the sound of the wheels. In this situation the car was not visible and it was the sound of the engine that made me pull him back.

We are all very used to hearing cars when they drive and accelerate, and a lot of people are counting on this factor when it comes to traffic safety. Especially blind people.

So this is not a topic that should be avoided by giving away Darwin awards. Lowering the level of sound pollution is definitely a good thing, but safety should come first.

We don't know yet in which direction will this all go, but it should definitely be discussed and solved before we all start driving electric cars.

P.S. In mi opinion, the separation of human and car traffic may be our best option in long term, but we are still very far away from this...

Mike83 | 29 juni 2015

I have yet to run over a squirrel with my MS. ICE vehicles hit them often. Funny concern about noisy vehicles. So a Rolls Royce wants a noisy car? What an idiot topic.

DTsea | 29 juni 2015

Tesla dealt with by installing a brake pedal.

carlgo2 | 29 juni 2015

I admit to have been taken by surprise in a parking lot, not hearing beautiful red S. On the other hand, I was in front of him and easy to see, yet he was being kind of aggressive coming up close. So, yes, in slow speed areas like driveways and parking lots EV drivers should pay attention and not assume people will hear them.

On about a 35mph road I noted that a passing ICE car and then a Tesla seemed the same to me.

In time the sensors will be able to deal with pedestrians. In the meantime, the idea of playing thumping music on the high-end sound system option will be a good choice.

johnse | 1 juli 2015

A friend has a Prius. A mom she knew was trying to get a child to look before stepping out into a street. Kid was saying that he could hear a car coming--didn't have to look.

My friend, in collusion with the mother, slowly pulled her Prius up near the child on battery power--then honked. The kid hadn't heard it approach and was very surprised.

Education will be important, but it will be in small ways like that.

The cases of deaf people and blind corners will indeed need to be handled by careful driving. I think the active automatic accident avoidance systems will be better for this than artificial noise generators.

Timo | 1 juli 2015

Deaf people would not hear car coming, blind corner or not :-)

Blind people OTOH are comparable to teenager texting the most important message on the world: they don't see anything. I have seen a perfectly healthy person walking straight to big-ass tram while typing something to her mobile. That's pretty much equal to walking to the wall.

I have suggested a car-blind people warning system before, where instead of blindly (pardon the pun) making artificial noises, blind people and cars could communicate to each other. Give car a warning if it detects blind person nearby, and a some sort of buzz to cane (or similar) of the blind person so that he knows that there is a car nearby. RFID or similar.

Standardize that. Make it requirement for those gas-saving ICE cars too that shut down the engine in stoplights and/or are otherwise very silent.

That would have an extra benefit that even when ambient noises were LOUD you could still get warning about car being nearby (and car driver also gets warning that there is someone nearby that can't see you).

There are a lot less blind people around than there are cars. No need to ruin the quiet experience from rest of us by artificial beeping noises.

ian | 1 juli 2015

Blind people typically have much more acute hearing than sighted people. That and they simply pay attention to what they hear more often than sighted people because they have to. It, along with touch, is their only connection to the world around them.

I think it will only take a bit of time and education for them (and the rest of us) to become more accustomed to hearing electric cars approaching.

As an avid bicyclist, and one that does NOT listen to headphones while riding my bike, I can hear most cars approaching, even electric ones. The vehicles that usually startle me most are buses that, while I can hear them approaching, always end up being larger when they appear next to me than their sound signature indicates.

Brian H | 1 juli 2015

Darwin will provide.

Pluto is a Planet | 2 juli 2015

In California, the driving laws say that pedestrians have the right of way. This means in the case of an accident, the driver is at fault, not the pedestrian. A pedestrian doesn't need to hear a car coming; it's the driver's responsibility to account for careless pedestrians.

What I typically do is watch pedestrians to see if they've recognized me, otherwise drive as if they didn't know I was there (basically drive cautiously). If they haven't recognized me but aren't giving any indication they're going to enter the roadway, I drive slower. If they haven't recognized me but look like they're about to enter the roadway, I drive as if they're going to enter the roadway (slow down and prepare to stop where I'd expect them to cross). If they haven't crossed by the time I get to where I expect them to cross and I can safely drive on, I do that.

No engine noise needed.

ian | 2 juli 2015

What Brian H said. Especially for the idiots walking and looking at their smartphones. | 4 juli 2015

@DonS: "I have since reprogrammed my behavior to pay attention..."

Please post the code for that. I have been trying to do that for years but keep getting stuck in "do loops", much to the annoyance of my wife.:-))

Guy2095 | 4 juli 2015

carlgo2: "So, yes, in slow speed areas like driveways and parking lots EV drivers should pay attention and not assume people will hear them."

Hear them or not, in my experience almost everyone walking in parking lots, especially Walmart lots, behaves as if they were totally oblivious to moving vehicles.

Drivers step out of their cars and the pedestrian sections of their brains take control to guide them to provide maximum obstruction and challenge for other drivers just like their passengers do.

BozieB | 10 juli 2015