Safety is our highest priority, and the regulations will help keep everyone using the nation's streets and roadways safe, whether they are motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians, and especially the blind and visually impaired. Under the requirement, cars would be required to be heard above typical street noises when they are traveling at speeds less than 18 miles per hour. The engines of cars traveling faster than that are typically loud enough to be heard.
The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administrator (NHTSA), part of DOT, has taken into consideration the cost to hybrid and electric automakers of implementing the new rules. The proposal would allow manufacturers the flexibility to design different sounds for different makes and models while still providing an opportunity for pedestrians, bicyclists and the visually impaired to detect and recognize a vehicle and make a decision about whether it is safe to cross the street.
NHTSA said the minimum sound requirements would prevent 2,800 pedestrian and bicycle injuries each year. (The Hill, 1/7/2012)