Hybrids, electrics face sound rules


Published Jan 8, 2013 at 04:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

Federal regulators say it may be time for hybrid and electric vehicles to pump up the volume.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday that it is proposing minimum sound standards for hybrid and electric vehicles as a way to make pedestrians more aware of them as they approach.

Because those vehicles don’t rely on traditional gas or diesel-powered engines at low speeds, they tend to be much quieter, making them hard to hear amid ambient street noise. The proposed standard — mandated in the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act — would require that the vehicles are audible among a wide range of street noises whenever traveling under 18 miles per hour.

At 18 mph and faster, the NHTSA said, vehicles make enough noise that pedestrians and bicyclists can hear them without added sound.