Will Adding Sound to Electric Cars Improve Safety?

January 18, 2022
Media Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Those Injured by Electric or Hybrid Vehicles.

Electric and hybrid cars have increasingly become more popular. In fact, a report by the International Energy Agency found that over 3 million electric cars were registered in 2021, which is 41 percent more than 2019.

Electric and hybrid cars certainly have benefits. Electric motors do not emit the same pollutants as gasoline engines, they are more energy efficient, perform better, and are also easier to maintain. However, for pedestrians, other drivers, bicyclists, and those with poor vision, electric cars do have their negatives and can even be dangerous.

Gasoline engines make rumbling noises which allow them to be easily detectable. Electric motors are nearly silent, especially when traveling at speeds lower than 19 miles per hour. At higher speeds, only wind and tire noises are heard.

This poses a major problem for pedestrians and even other drivers, particularly in urban areas. A report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that electric or hybrid vehicles are responsible for 37 percent of all pedestrian accidents, and they are responsible for 57 percent of all bicycle accidents.

Since 2019, the United States requires newly made vehicles to have an acoustic vehicle alerting system (AVAS) installed. The AVAS must make a sound alerting pedestrians and other road users when the vehicle is traveling below 12 miles per hour or when in reverse. However, what should an electric car sound like? Many car manufacturers are using different means to answer that question and to comply with the regulations. The sound should meet three goals: better safety for pedestrians, keep sound pollution to a minimum, and the sound should familiarize people with an approaching vehicle.

Methods to Make Electric Cars Safer

Manufacturers will need to develop a retrofitted sound system. Many hybrid vehicles can run on an electric motor alone, and these cars were developed before the federal regulations took place. Whatever sound manufacturers come up with to meet regulations must be used in older vehicles as well.

Sound alone, however, is not the final solution. Researchers from Pennsylvania State University and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute tested how well people could detect these vehicle sounds and found that some of the study’s participants still missed detections, even at close ranges. The manufactured noise must stand out from all the other noises in a city area.

Car manufacturers must develop a sound that makes electric cars stand out. Many manufacturers are adding digital combustion engine noises, while others are using movie soundtracks or alarm sounds. If an electric car is silent and undetectable, a car accident can easily happen.

Media Car Accident Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Help Those Injured by Electric or Hybrid Vehicles

If you have been involved in an accident with an electric or hybrid vehicle, our Media car accident lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. are available to help. Call us today at 610-565-3701 or fill out our online form for an initial consultation. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County.