Manufacturers of “quiet cars” will be required by 2020 to emit engine-like sounds while running, the Department of Transportation (DOT) ruled Monday.
The ruling for “quiet cars” — electric and hybrid vehicles that don’t create the same sounds as engines powered by fossil fuels — mandates that car manufacturers install external speakers on vehicles to emit a fake car sound. Manufacturers will have until September 2020 to meet full compliance — a one-year extension from the deadline placed under the Obama administration.
The rule was first demanded by Congress in 2010 following safety concerns that quiet cars were hazardous to blind or hard-of-hearing pedestrians. However, the Trump administration delayed the implementation of the Obama-era rule earlier last year to conduct a review of petitions from automakers.
Nissan, for example, had argued that the alert was only needed for up to 12.4 mph. The rule announced Monday will be mandated for cars moving at speeds of up to 18.6 miles per hour.
DOT estimates that hybrid vehicles are 19 percent likely to collide with pedestrians than traditional gasoline-powered vehicles. The agency estimates there are about 125,000 pedestrians and cyclists injured each year on U.S. roads.
The rule, according to the Federal Register, will mandate that automakers meet 50 percent compliance by September 2019. The rule will allow for variations in the car sound that automakers use.
The decision is especially suited toward California, a state where automakers must sell electric-powered vehicles in order to meet the state’s stricter emissions requirements.
DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that under the rule, the car-like sounds will be added to about 530,000 model 2020 vehicles and once implemented will prevent 2,400 injuries annually.