back to article US lawmakers to de-silence electric cars

A bill that will require electric and hybrid cars to make enough noise so that blind folks can hear them coming has been introduced in the US Senate. The bill, S. 841 - more pedestrian-ly known as the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 - doesn't specifically mention adding noise to otherwise silent vehicles. It merely …

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Joke

@ @ imagine it

To coin a phrase: Was that "car tunes" or "car toons"?

I'd like to claim the Trademark and Registered mark right now ... CarToon (TM) (R)

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MnM
Dead Vulture

pub landlord would not be happy

just remember, nobheads, that over here we like to strike a balance between too many rules and too few.

Noise isn't necessarily desirable but it's still a feature of cars today, has been for decades, and has made it into the green cross code. This is about general awareness of heavy fast lumps. Sound is useful, what with it travelling round corners much faster than the vehicles it's telegraphing. Horn arguments blatantly miss the point, because the point is about pedestrian awareness, not driver awareness. Bicycle arguments miss the point because bicyles can't judge the dross of humanity as well as powered vehicels can (I'm referring to the fully-facultied, grown-up paedestrians who have such faith that the road is clear if they can't hear anything, that they walk into me and my bike.)

My flatmate witnessed a woman talking on her phone walk out into the road right in front of a London bus, going slowly, but there was no time to brake. Entirely her fault. Her head hit the windscreen at about 10 mph and it critically injured her, not sure if she survived or not. Stupid as it sounds, all the hubbab in the centre of town and a concentration lapse was all it took. It's less funny when a bus is involved, not a bicycle.

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Jobs Halo

Not the first time this has been done

This has come up before in the US. During the 1930's a chap named Abner Doble built some remarkable steam-driven cars that not only could hold thier own easily with modern traffic but were so silent that were required in Califonian state law to carry what amounted to a UK football rattle rotated by the front axle so pedestrians could hear them coming!

The technology he pioneered went on to be incorporated into various railcars and the Sentinel S8 Steam lorry as well as domestic steam boilers and is worth a look. The cars were very well engineered and most still survive.

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Bronze badge
Flame

Highway Code

How about someone introduces a rule or Law that says that drivers & riders should watch out for, and give way to pedestrians, whether sighted or not?

What? You say there is one already?

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For all those bleating on about crossings....

...It's maybe a fair comment in the centre of large towns, but as soon as you move towards the residential roads then you'll find there are no crossings and you have to cross where you can.

I like to think of myself as observant, but there have been a couple of times the 'leccy cars have caught me by surprise. You don't realise how much you are trained to listen for cars until it happens.

I think leccy cars should make some sort of noise, but it should be standardised, with no option of modifications. Surely it shouldn't be too hard for the volume to automatically adjust to the surroundings so that quiet areas stay that way.

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"Bicycles have existed for centuries without that being a problem..."

Speak for yourself. I've had many very close misses with pedestrians stepping out in my path when I'm on my bike. I've never had any form of close shave when driving my car.

Some perspective:

As it is, many people don't look when they cross the road. There were 646 pedestrian fatalities in 2007, 74% of those resulting from pedestrian error, most of the error was 'failing to look properly' (RCGB2007). If this is left unchecked, silent cars will make the problem worse.

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Thumb Up

Believe it or not, this is a good idea

I've actually visited a place where there were no combustion vehicles, only electric golf carts and bicycles; Caye Caulker in Belize. It was LETHAL. Every vehicle was silent and fast moving, but at least being open there was the option for drivers to shout at soon-to-be-run-over pedestrians. With real electric cars there were be no such option. This isn't just about blind people; entire populations have been trained to use their ears at least as much as their eyes in traffic.

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Someone got hit by a silent electric car?

He didn't see that coming.

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How many blind people are they?

Instead of making cars noisy, which is unpleasant and unnecessary for the 99.9% of the population that can see them, what about some sort of doppler system for blind people that tells them when a vehicle is approaching? It works for bats and dolphins.

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Black Helicopters

Smile citizen BB loves you!

"non-visual alert regarding the location, motion, speed, and direction of travel of a motor vehicle."

Could also be interpreted to mean a tracking system for all cars.

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Anonymous Coward

FFS

How often do people need telling? On current IC powered cars by far the loudest noise at anything much above walking pace is tyre noise. OK so under hard acceleration an IC powered car will make more noise than an EV, but most of the time the difference will hardly be noticable.

I can only assume that most of the people complaining about EVs being silent have never actually heard an EV and have never actually listened to a modern IC powered car passing.

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Anonymous Coward

That reminds me ...

My car is very quiet and has caught a few people out in car parks - I sit there patiently until they turn around and go "Oh! Sorry, I didn't even know you were there" - I can't bring myself to beep a pedestrian in a carpark.

A few times I've caught myself out especially in bright sunlight when the instruments are harder to see: start the car, get distracted with something in map pockets or glove box, start the car ... Do'h! Thank God for the cut-out that prevents the starter motor from engaging when the engine is running.

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Coat

Try this...

A "non-visual alert regarding the location, motion, speed, and direction of travel of a motor vehicle"?

Here's a little experiment for sighted readers to try. Stand at the edge of the pavement on any main road in London (Tottenham Court Road works well) at the location of your choice during a busy period and close your eyes. You will be horrified to find that it is actually almost impossible to judge the location, motion, speed or direction of travel of any single vehicle until it is right in front of you, producing a level of noise substantially higher than the background road traffic noise level.

My training as an acoustical engineer and the tiny shred of common sense I have tell me that this is possibly an misguided idea. But I would rather like it if my P-reg Micra made a noise like a Bugatti so maybe there is something in this after all.

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Anonymous Coward

I tried this today

I spent a couple of hours in the city and suburbs as a pedestrian today, so I tried this at every intersection and every crossing (i.e. closing my eyes and trying to judge location and movement of traffic from sound alone). Impossible! There is no way a person can judge the traffic - there's far too much noise in the city and even suburban areas, e.g. the local shops. This would only work for one or two vehicles ... on a quiet stretch of road ... exactly where blind people aren't!

In other words, it's a stupid idea.

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Coat

Already Done...

Brabus have already released a "tuned" version of the Tesla complete with V8 soundtrack:

http://www.autoweek.com/article/20081113/FREE/811139991

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Anonymous Coward

Why 2 fucking years????

What really gets up my nose are these stupid fucking committee types and take for ever and fuck around add infinitum... just to do a simple thing.

What? You mean these stupid individuals cannot screw a little 50mm high brass bell onto the front of the vehicle - with a wind chime style driven donger - or something as equally simple?

I mean electric vehicles are great.... but add a little bit of back ground noise - like other vehicles, birds, a breeze etc., and you cannot hear them coming.

It's a fair call to a stupid committee.

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