2011 Chevrolet Volt exhibited at the 2010 Wash...
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Congress has just added a “noise requirement” clause for hybrid and electric cars to its auto safety bill. Such vehicles, according to the requirement, would have to generate some form of artificial noise to alert blind pedestrians and other visually-impaired individuals.

“This is an example of too much of a good thing,” said John Pare, executive director for strategic initiatives with the National Federation of the Blind, in statement “Cars got quieter, that was good. Suddenly they got to be so quiet that it added an element of danger.” In a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), hybrid vehicles, in low speed accidents, were twice as likely to be involved in accidents as their gas-only counterparts.

Various automakers, who helped shape the sound requirement, have already installed various kinds of alert systems in their hybrid and electric vehicles. The upcoming Nissan LEAF EV, for example, emits a whir that changes pitch as the vehicle accelerates. The Chevy Volt, on the other hand, uses a horn sound to get pedestrian’s attention. And both Toyota and Ford are looking into such systems for their quiet vehicles.

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