Today, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a new “quiet car” safety standard, which is designed to protect pedestrians — particularly those who are vision-impaired — from hybrid and electric cars.
The mandate will require new hybrid and electric vehicles under 4536kg to come equipped with built-in “audible noise”, which will sound when the car is travelling under 30km per hour. “At higher speeds,” the NHTSA’s press release says, “the sound alert is not required because other factors, such as tire and wind noise, provide adequate audible warning to pedestrians.” The agency says the new rules will prevent roughly 2400 pedestrian injuries annually once all is said and done. Manufacturers have until September 2019 to comply with the new rules.
According to a detailed description of the rule, the new standard stems from a mandate within the 2010 Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. The latter required the NHTSA “to establish performance requirements for an alert sound that is recognisable as a motor vehicle in operation”, which suggests that the sounds, whatever they form they might take, may be artificial.
“Engine-sound enhancement” isn’t an alien concept — fancy cars like the BMW M5 were noted for their fake engine noises, for example. Of course, those noises were designed for the driver, not a pedestrian outside the car, and they weren’t necessarily implemented with safety in mind.
Still, the idea that a car can come equipped with its own fake soundtrack is fun, and with that in mind, we’ve come up with some noise suggestions for car manufacturers in the event they can’t think of any themselves.
1. The Simpsons’ “electric car of the future”
2. Yoko Ono’s scream therapy
— Yoko Ono (@yokoono) November 11, 2016
4. Spookin’ in the wrong neighbourhood
5. Howard Dean’s scream
6. Airhorn sound effects
7. “I WAS TOLD BY APPLE CARE”
8. “I don’t know her”
9. HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK HONK
Did we miss any? Tell us in the comments below.