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Will audible alerts on electric and hybrid vehicles save lives?

Blind people and those with limited vision usually have heightened hearing capabilities. But despite this, they often have difficulty perceiving electric and hybrid vehicles as they approach. This results in more than 2,400 pedestrian accidents every year, many of them fatal.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently issued a new regulation designed to reduce the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities. The measure requires manufacturers to include an audible alert system on all four-wheel electric and hybrid vehicles with a gross weight of 10,000 pounds or less. The alert system will have to make an audible sound when these vehicles are travelling at a speed of 19 miles per hour or less. Manufacturers must equip all new electric and hybrid electric vehicles with sounds that meet the new standard by September 1, 2019.

NHTSA believes that at speeds of higher than 19 miles per hour electric and hybrid vehicles emit enough noise through vibration, tire contact with the road and wind flow to be audible.

The press release issued by NHTSA quotes Eric Bridges, Executive Director of the American Council of the Blind, as saying:

"We commend NHTSA on bringing this process to completion. This new safety standard moving forward will not just make our streets safer for blind and visually impaired Americans, but also serve as an additional safety cue for all pedestrians who share the streets with hybrid or electric vehicles."

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