Forums

Your thoughts about DOT requiring our cars to make noise at slower speeds

Your thoughts about DOT requiring our cars to make noise at slower speeds

I guess I overlooked this news tidbit until now, but the DOT, in an effort to protect unwary pedestrians, will require all EV and hybrid manufacturers by 2020 to install devices which make our peaceful, quiet cars emit a sound recognizable as a motor vehicle at lower speeds up to 19 mph. https://electrek.co/2019/01/10/tesla-model-3-safer-noise-machine/

I’m all for driving carefully around pedestrians but this noisemaker requirement seems like an overreaction. As far as I know, there’s not an epidemic of a bunch of people being run over unawares by EVs, is there? Isn’t that the exception and not the rule? (Part of me thinks let’s just fire the emissions testing mode at people walking in front of our car, but I digress…).
So nope, I’m not a fan of this requirement. I like my nearly silent car. It reduces air AND noise pollution.

In the article link above, Elon has mentioned a creative way to solve/abide by this; “I think the sensible and ideal thing long-term is to have proximity sensors that direct a pleasant sound in the direction of where somebody is walking – so therefore, it’s the least amount of noise, and it’s not annoying, and it’s only going to where it needs to go. That’s what I think is the right long-term solution.”

I guess if we have to, this is an option...

What are your thoughts about this requirement from the DOT?

billtphotoman | January 12, 2019

I agree with an earlier poster that some Lexus ICE vehicles are very quiet at low speeds too. My wife's 2018 Leaf has the noise makers (an obnoxious pinging in reverse and weird whine in forward) and pedestrians seem to ignore it. I only want my model 3 to emit as sound al low speeds if I can make it sound like this on demand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iGk7MT_0R0

gballant4570 | January 12, 2019

ccfiiimd, after I posted my previous post on this thread I thought about FSD being a reason for blind folks to be in parking lots unaccompanied. I am hoping that day comes, and sooner rather than later.

By the way, you missed my other point entirely. I am not willing accept the risk of running over anyone, nor did I mention doing so. I pay a lot of attention in pedestrian close situations - I don't get around as easily as I once did, and can find myself perhaps a bit vulnerable as a result in those situations myself, especially when idiots drive through parking lots at high speed, or when they cut across the lanes/spaces.

The risk I AM willing to take is the risk that I will be sued for not having a noise maker on my car, should that risk develop due to EV's running over so many blind people those lawsuits become commonplace. I thought what I posted was fairly clear on that - maybe I wasn't.

jimglas | January 12, 2019

@Bill: A fair compromise ....

Mike83 | January 12, 2019

More noise like car alarms going off that no notices. Do other countries want this or only in America?
There was a funny skit with Michelle Wolf that had horns, sirens, etc. going off 24 hours a day. Is everyone safe? LOL

EM34ME | January 12, 2019

"this is a situation where a minority group, blind people, are advocating for decreasing their probability of injury. I am sympathetic, and certainly laws may be crafted where auditory warning signals are not based on the type of engine, ICE versus EV, but based on the ability of blind people to hear them approaching, i.e., the sound generated at low speeds by a vehicle. .................. I do favor looking at the science of something like this rather than crowdsourcing opinion from people who don’t suffer from this disability. If you are blind, the world is completely different. The rest of us, accommodating blind people with a $10 sound device seems like simple compassion, if it works, AND it can be designed to work well. We here in the United States have lots of ADA Laws that have melted into the background and we don’t realize the beneficial effects for disabled people. "

What about people who are hearing impaired? if you are hearing impaired, the world is completely different (and hearing aids won't help my wife because she has a physiological disorder). So the hearing impaired should lobby DOT for 100 db noisemakers on all cars, motorcycles, and bicycles and using your logic this should be granted because it is a simple compassionate $10 item. Well we already have one of those, it is called a HORN ! Completely effective for blind people but not quite for people who are deaf. And using your argument, YOU are not allowed to disagree on this because YOU are apparently NOT hearing impaired.

My wife has learned to take personal responsibility for her disability rather than making the rest of the world responsible. She has learned what is safe and not safe for her and takes appropriate action. She acknowledges what her limitations are and lives a full, productive life that will always contain some risk for her. So please, all you rude drivers out there, don't honk at her when you think she is crossing too slowly in the pedestrian crosswalk. She can't hear you anyway!

DanFoster1 | January 12, 2019

The whole idea is stupid. It is obvious no one thought this through. It was pushed through by idiots.

1) People walk in front of loud cars all the time.

2) Once electric cars are the higher percentage it’s just more noise to ignore. Imagine busy parking lots full of them.

jimglas | January 12, 2019

Most ICE cars are silent when coasting

M3phan | January 12, 2019

Yup. I strongly dislike this regulation. All I can hope is that Elon pulls off what he has suggested, using AP to detect pedestrians and emit a pleasant sound in their direction only as needed I wonder if that would meet DOT standards, to not have the sound just on all the time at low speeds, but to only come on when pedestrians detected.

gmkellogg | January 12, 2019

Over regulation. Some lawmaker piped up and made up an issue to solve.

Njbrw549 | January 12, 2019

Wouldn't it be more practical and cheaper to provide a vehicle detector to warn the pedestrian of approaching vehicles, whether bike or ev?

teslu3 | January 12, 2019

Why is it that regulation is is considered so evill that the EPA has gutted its regulations and become the Environmental Pollution Agency, accelerating pollution including noise pollution? Requiring EVs (not ICEVs) to increase their noise decreases their value, discourages potential buyers and implicitly favors ICEVs..A good compromise is to require a second horn level suitable for pedestrians under operator control -- a simple change to the pending imposition of EV noise maker below ~20 mph. Instead of forcing EVs to produce unwanted noise when moving slowly but not near pedestrians (99% of the time?), the penalties for any vehicle hitting a pedestrian should instead be increased.

ccfiiimd | January 13, 2019

@EM34ME so there is a difference betweeen blind people who use their ears to “see” and deaf people who use their eyes to see. Just like there is a difference between folks in wheelchairs and folks who can walk, but, we generally have no curbs at street crossings to help those in wheelchairs.

ccfiiimd | January 13, 2019

A lot of people have commented about how pedestrians ignore the world around them because they’re listening to music or looking at their phone screen. They posit that these pedestrians would not pay attention to a sound eminating from your vehicle. They are probably right about that point. These people’s disability is not associated with a lack of a sense like seeing or hearing. Their deficit is a lack of common sense, and so far, we don’t have a device able to increase the IQ and situational awareness of everyone in a 30 yard radius, but, I would add that to my wishlist of functions for the Model 3. Oh yeah, that would help some drivers as well.... ;-).

kevin_rf | January 13, 2019

Stopped at Walgreens last night, kiddo gets out of car and while looking at her phone and walks across the parking lot into the store. So I asked did you see the car as you crossed in front of it. What car, was the response.

jefjes | January 13, 2019

Doesn't matter to me one way or the other but if it is required in a way that mandates a factory recall to equip cars already in owners hands, I hope the government that adds such an expense picks up the tab of such retrofits. Also, Elon being Elon will probably give us a menu of various sounds. I think I'll pick fingernails on a chalkboard...;-)

EM34ME | January 13, 2019

"A good compromise is to require a second horn level suitable for pedestrians under operator control -- a simple change to the pending imposition of EV noise maker below ~20 mph. Instead of forcing EVs to produce unwanted noise when moving slowly but not near pedestrians (99% of the time?), "

This is something i have given some thought. Tesla gives out a "chirp" when the doors lock (as do most cars). Tesla can implement a "chirp" sound through OTA that is activated by the driver by pushing on a scroll button or pulling forward on a stock. It would be completely driver activated at any speed. Use it or not, it is up to the driver. It would not require a recall, it would be "free", and it would not be a required intrusion to being always on. This ability would be an asset to a TESLA BEV rather than a liability. Match that ICEV ! I know I would use it mostly to say "HI" to my neighbors rather than an obnoxious blast on the horn. I would use it rarely for pedestrians since I always give pedestrians the right of way regardless of their impairments or whether they might be breaking the law.

Unfortunately, the "chirp" sound does nothing to help the hearing impaired. People who aren't hearing impaired have no idea how challenging and debilitating the impairment is and are better off being silent on the issue.

SteveWin1 | January 14, 2019

I would actually love a speaker on the outside of my car that could make a revving sound on command, to get parking lot pedestrians to move out of the way without having to honk. I recently had to take my front bumper off to repair wire damage caused by a rat that crawled in there and there's a spot already molded into the bumper for a speaker to be placed in the future. I think this requirement is only for manufacturers, so if you didn't want it, you could just cut the wire to the speaker.

ksalberta | January 14, 2019

I'm going to buck the trend and take the stance that the regulation is probably good. Pedestrian deaths have been rising. Rather than blaming people with a disability for this reg, the truth is that it will probably reduce pedestrian deaths among the non-disabled.

Part of the problem is that people are just accustomed, even subconsciously, to listening for a vehicle. I have been shocked several times (although never in any danger) in a parking lot when I have finished loading my car and turned around to discover a car that had "snuck up" on me.

This is NTSB report about the trend:
https://www.ntsb.gov/
safety/safety-studies/Documents/SIR1803.pdf

The reality is that distracted pedestrians/bikers are a problem, and so are drunk/high pedestrians/bikers. If the added sound provides additional protection for a driver against the chance of being involved in such an accident, the irritation is well worth it. The fact that most of these fatalities happen at night, and that there are a high proportion of pedestrians "under the influence" involved in these accidents implies that there is not much more that drivers can do to avoid them.

Your life, as a driver, will become pure hell for a time if you hit a pedestrian. And even if you can establish that you are not legally at fault, you may be the target of a civil suit, and then again, a normal person will just be sick about it.

ksalberta | January 14, 2019

PS: Found the 2011 report NHTSA which concluded that electric/hybrid vehicles were 35%/57% more likely to be involved in a pedestrian/bicycle crash than an ICE vehicle.
https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/
Api/Public/ViewPublication/811526

andy.connor.e | January 14, 2019

My thoughts are that people need to pay attention to their surroundings. Not a single time in my life have i ever been aware of a vehicle because of the noise of the engine. In parking lots, i am always looking around. Outside of parking lots, the noise of the tires/wind is louder than the engine. The only time i actually hear the engine of a vehicle is when they either floor it, or if their muffler is shot.

This is like the political aspect of electric vehicles. How much liability can we pin on the vehicle before the individual is actually required to be responsible for themselves. You cannot idiot-proof society. This is yet another bump in the road.

Bob.rae99 | January 14, 2019

Seems to me if the car is using radar to avoid pedestrians and will brake if it encounters one in its path, a sound emitter shouldn't be necessary on the Tesla.

andy.connor.e | January 14, 2019

Instead of having people pay attention to traffic, and wait until there is a clearing to cross, the pedestrians now have the right of way when crossing. Now all the responsibility is on the drivers to watch out for people who are not paying attention. I see it every single day watching people just dart out into the crosswalk without even looking left or right.

One day, we really need to say 'tough shit' to people, and pay more attention next time. Keep making people more busy, and give them the tools they need to be even more oblivious to their surroundings. Wireless earbuds for endless phonecalls, giant smarphone to take your attention away while walking. We're just getting started.

ODWms | January 14, 2019

I couldn’t agree more with the last few posts. Society is getting more and more idiot-friendly. I guess it’s good for the idiots.

As far as the noisemaker, as long as it isn’t too obnoxious to me as the driver I wound worry about it. But if it’s a problem I’ll think nothing of disconnecting it.

One of my other cars had an annoying habit of emitting a high pitched, repeated squealing/beeping sound as soon as you start the car.

I realized that it does this as a warning about the seatbelt, which I habitually connect after I crank up, and before I put the car in gear.

The noise doesn’t happen if you get in and belt up first, and then crank.

Not doing that.

Disconnected.

jordanrichard | January 14, 2019

Because of the angle I have to pull into the garage, my parking sensors sound off but I really pay no attention to it because I am focused on the view in my passenger mirror to assure that I don't scrape my rear right fender on the door opening. So, in other words, I am in the car where the noise is emitting from the speaker that is all of maybe 2 1/2 feet away and I am drowning it out with my focus on other things..

SteveWin1 | January 14, 2019

Thanks @ksalberta for posting actual stats about increased pediestrian/EV accidents. What I don't understand is how the NHTSA can feel comfortable saying "EVs kill more pedestrians and bicyclists that ICEs...but we don't have enough data yet to say for sure that EVs are less likely to catch on fire or than autopilot is safer than no autopilot."

Why not pass a law requiring gas cars to all carry a fire extinguisher on-board or, better yet, require the ICE manufacturers to install automatic fire suppression systems inside the car that trigger automatically after a collision. Just 2 weeks ago, a young successful friend of mine burned alive after being in an ICE accident and not being able to get out in time when the car burst into flames. According to Tesla, their cars catch on fire at 1/11th the rate of ICE cars. If that's true, that's a much bigger deal than the sound issue. 1100% higher rate of catching fire vs 35%/57% higher rate of bumping into someone who isn't paying attention to their surroundings.

bj | January 15, 2019

The conspiracy theorists are out in force on this one. Regardless of whether this is a good idea or not, to suggest it is the work of the oil lobby or part of a grand plan to make EVs less desirable is complete and utter rubbish.

The Nissan LEAF has had pedestrian forward alert warning sound since inception. Does the conspiracy go back to 2011? When just about everyone thought BEVs will never be a threat to ICE? Really?

Do people here *seriously* think that the requirement for having such a warning sound will the the one thing that will actually make people *not* buy an electric car?

Some fact checking for those who have never lived outside the Tesla bubble. If the LEAF is any indication, the noise is barely audible in the cabin. In fact I had no idea it made that noise until I read the manual end to end a couple of months after getting it. I had to wind the windows down while driving slowly in a back lane to hear it. The noise is projected forward so it is mostly audible only for people in front of the car.

Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill. This thread is a living example.

EM34ME | January 15, 2019

"The conspiracy theorists are out in force on this one. Regardless of whether this is a good idea or not, to suggest it is the work of the oil lobby or part of a grand plan to make EVs less desirable is complete and utter rubbish."

Then you choose to ignore the oil lobby's efforts to make BEV's less desirable? If that's the case, let's make the tax credits for EVs permanent just like the oil subsidies for ICE are permanent.

Okay let's put "barely" audible" noise makers on ICEVs, motorcycles, and bicycles too! Let's see how far that idea goes. Why just EVs?

bj | January 15, 2019

@EM34ME - “If that's the case, let's make the tax credits for EVs permanent”

See, you are living in a bubble where your experience is projected to the rest of the world. Where I live, there are no tax credits for EVs, or incentives of any kind.

“Okay let's put "barely" audible" noise makers on ICEVs, motorcycles, and bicycles too! Let's see how far that idea goes. Why just EVs?”

Do you really need this explained to you? OK. Because EVs make almost no noise when moving slowly while ICEVs and motorcycles make lots of noise, even when standing still. As to comments here that modern ICEVs make almost no noise when moving slowly... unless they are hybrids driving in electric only mode they make more noise than a BEV with a pedestrian forward alert warning sound. I’ve yet to encounter one of these allegedly quiet ICEs.

The mountain out of a molehill continues...

Magic 8 Ball | January 15, 2019

Let's put bells on dingos. The dingos sneak up and take babies.

TranzNDance | January 15, 2019

Have you not SEEN the Leaf? It is the poster child for "efforts to make BEV's less desirable". Nissan has a financial interest in protecting its ICE sales. I no longer see Leaf cars in our school parking lot because people have better options these days.

Mike83 | January 15, 2019

I have several bicycle horns, my air horn can do 120 dbs(need to wear earplugs). and I have a $10 electronic horn that has several sounds.
I may mount one next to my deer whistles to make people move. Just kidding about ever needing to do this.
Putting a big sign on ICE saying DRIVING THIS VEHICLE IS CARCINOGENIC should also be required.

This is sarcasm.

M3phan | January 15, 2019

@M8B: dingo...hahahahahahaha!

Not a conspiracy theorist myself, just someone who dislikes unnecessary government regulation.

EM34ME | January 15, 2019

"See, you are living in a bubble where your experience is projected to the rest of the world. Where I live, there are no tax credits for EVs, or incentives of any kind."

Since the DOT is a US regulating agency, we are talking about the USA and the Federal Tax Credit that is available to everyone. What don't you get?

"Do you really need this explained to you? "

How quiet is too quiet? BEVs are NOT silent you know, particularly to a blind person with compensating acute hearing. Yes, I do really need this explained to me. The modern ICEV is as quiet as an EV (particularly hybrids), electric motorcycles are being introduced into the marketplace (but no proposal for putting noisemakers on them), and you failed to address bicycles because you have no counter-argument. So yeah, this proposal for noisemakers really needs to be explained to me because the proposal is selective, it is onerous, and it is malicious.

But not to worry, one day in the not too distant future, cars will have radar that will detect inattentive pedestrians and come to a complete stop (and Tesla will be the first to introduce it) and you will be required to pay $5000 extra for a form of EAP.

(By the way, I love my EAP and use it almost daily).

bj | January 15, 2019

@TranzNDance - “Have you not SEEN the Leaf?”

I’ve been driving one for 4 years. So, yeah.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Do I think it looks ugly? No. Do I think it looks magnificent? No. But I’m very utilitarian, I care an order of magnitude more about function than looks. Model 3 looks nice to me, but that’s just a little bonus to its practicality in my book.

Most people seem to think the new LEAF looks much better than the previous one, so your conspiracy theory is disproven, because if Nissan truly wants to discourage BEVs, why did they make the Gen 2 LEAF more conventional looking than Gen 1? Surely they would have made it uglier or terminated the model completely if they wanted to boost ICE? Your assertion does not pass Logic 101.

TranzNDance | January 15, 2019

Do you believe Nissan would have changed course if Tesla had not stomped on their strategy? Look at their sales numbers.

bj | January 15, 2019

@EM34ME - “Since the DOT is a US regulating agency, we are talking about the USA and the Federal Tax Credit that is available to everyone. What don't you get?”

Because if it is a conspiracy then surely it’s a global one, no? Conspiracy theorists love nothing better than the new world order being imposed that no-one knows about.

“Yes, I do really need this explained to me. The modern ICEV is as quiet as an EV (particularly hybrids)”

I find this assertion laughable, but whatevs. Sure, a hybrid driving in electric mode at slow speed is as quiet as a BEV, but the rest, absolutely not.

“electric motorcycles are being introduced into the marketplace (but no proposal for putting noisemakers on them)”

I’ve not followed electric motorcycles closely, but there may be jurisdictions outside the USA which do mandate pedestrian alert sounds on electric motorcycles.

“you failed to address bicycles because you have no counter-argument.”

Bicycles rarely kill pedestrians, I didn’t think it was necessary to counter such an irrelevant point.

“So yeah, this proposal for noisemakers really needs to be explained to me because the proposal is selective, it is onerous, and it is malicious.”

It’s possibly selective, but onerous or malicious, no.

Personally, I don’t think the pedestrian alert sounds are that effective on a BEV, a pedestrian horn I think is a better solution, but as an issue it barely raises my blood pressure by a tenth of a point. Seriously, in the scale or world issues, putting a pedestrian noise in a BEV has raised a level of outrage and hostility here in this thread that defies any sense of proportion. Get a grip, people.

bj | January 15, 2019

@TranzNDance - “Do you believe Nissan would have changed course if Tesla had not stomped on their strategy? Look at their sales numbers.”

Ah, so Nissan do want BEVs to succeed. Great, I’m glad we’ve now cleared that up and we’re on the same page.

JayInJapan | January 15, 2019

I just drive at an appropriate speed for the situation. A touch of the horn is a last resort—I wish Tesla would give us a soft horn for a tap. That feature is so overdue...

foodking | January 16, 2019

My other car is a diesel and people still don't pay attention. Guess i could always toss it into neutral and blow smoke so they can smell me too. Some people just don't pay attention and they get angry when you use the horn.

andy.connor.e | January 16, 2019

People will just ignore the noise they add to EVs, just like they ignore the sound of an ICE vehicle. And just like how some people ignore literally everything.

BigJack | January 16, 2019

I would be all for the feature if it could be set to sound like the Jetson's car (speed-sensitive, of course). Second choice would be to play "Ride of the Valkyries."

andy.connor.e | January 16, 2019

How about a custom setting to play the song "Move B1ch, Get Out The Way"

ICEMELT | January 16, 2019

I agree with M8B's original comment. Regulator needs to make a living too and politicians need quick brownie points. Any regulation can be backed by a 'protection' story.

There are many dumb driving rules that have nothing to do with driving. For instance, loosing driver license for failure to pay child alimony (that may be just NJ).

The areas with most pedestrians are rather urban with its own level of noise pollution. This additional noise will hardly be noticeable.

spc737 | January 16, 2019

There are statistics indicating that the pedestrian accident rate IS much higher in EVs. Having been an EV driver for five years now I can tell you that pedestrians don't hear EVs coming at low speeds and I'm always hyper-vigilant in congested areas. My first Volt had a pedestrian horn that I used quite a bit but the newer version omitted this feature. I was in the Chevy dealer a few months ago and one of the mechanics almost got hit when his colleague was pulling my car out of the garage. Really brought the problem home to me.

cmh95628 | January 16, 2019

My 2013 Toyota Camry Hybrid had a noise maker. The only time I ever heard it was when pulling into the garage with the windows down. It was not very loud at all. The sound was about 90% white noise, 10% cowbell. Never bothered me when the windows were up as I could not even hear it.

andy.connor.e | January 16, 2019

@cmh

There is a prius in my family, and makes a very quiet, non-offensive noise as well.

Pages