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NHTSA Adds Sound Requirement for Hybrid and Electric Cars to Protect Pedestrians

November 24, 2016

NHTSA Adds Sound Requirement for Hybrid and Electric Cars to Protect Pedestrians as Cars Become Quieter, New Features Are Necessary to Protect Pedestrians

Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it was adding a sound requirement for new hybrid and electric vehicles that is aimed at protecting pedestrians. This novel safety standard will help to alert pedestrians, including those who are blind or have low vision, to the presence of light motor vehicles traveling at low rates of speed. The alert is expected to prevent some 2,400 pedestrian deaths each year once all hybrid vehicles carry the feature.

As vehicles become more eco-friendly, they have also become quieter. While this is a positive feature for many travelers, it can pose a threat to pedestrians who may not hear these vehicles approaching at low rates of speed. Acknowledging the need for additional alerts for pedestrians, the new NHTSA rule requires that all electric or hybrid vehicles with four wheels weighing 10,000 pounds or less to make an audible noise when driving in reverse or at forward speeds of up to 19 miles per hour. At higher speeds, the alert is not necessary because the vehicle will make sufficient noise to alert pedestrians.

Manufacturers of hybrid and electric vehicles will be required to include the noise feature on all of their vehicles by September 1, 2019. While the sound law will provide a much-needed safety feature for new hybrid and electric vehicles, there are steps that pedestrians can take right now to protect themselves against motor vehicles, such as following these tips provided by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center:

1. Make yourself visible: If a car cannot see you, you are at risk while walking on or near the road. As such, make yourself easier to be seen by wearing bright or reflective materials, carrying a flashlight if it is dark, and only crossing the street in well-lit areas.

2. Be alert: It is imperative that you pay close attention to your surroundings while walking. This includes putting down your cell phone, not using headphones or turning down the volume on your music, staying sober, and vigilantly scanning the road ahead and behind you.

3. Look before crossing: Cross at intersections or crosswalks whenever possible. Do not just rely on signs to cross—thoroughly look to ensure vehicles are coming to a stop before you step out onto the crosswalk and continue to pay close attention as you cross. Do not talk on the phone or wear headphones while crossing the road as you could miss signs that a car is not stopping or is starting to drive too soon.

4. Stick to the sidewalk: Walk on the sidewalk if one is present. If there is no sidewalk, walk close to the side of the road while facing traffic. Use caution while walking on the road and only do so if the road is safe and quiet enough to do so.

Pedestrian accidents are among the most serious due to the lack of protection afforded pedestrians. Pedestrians may suffer head injuries, broken bones, internal organ damage, spinal cord injuries, and more if they are hit by a car. 

Put Our Law Firm's Over 38 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Case!

If you or a loved one is injured in a pedestrian accident in Georgia and believe it was caused by negligence, contact our Atlanta pedestrian accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates to learn about your rights and options. Our firm has over 38 years of experience assisting car and pedestrian accident victims across Georgia and in the Southeast. Contact us to schedule your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

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Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.