NHTSA Requires ‘Quiet Car’ Safety Standards to Protect Pedestrians

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced the implementation of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 141. This rule provides that all newly manufactured hybrid and electric light-duty vehicles, which tend to be much quieter than internal combustion vehicles, must have a sound requirement in order to help protect pedestrians primarily, but also cyclists. These vehicles include passenger vehicles, light trucks, vans. More specifically, this new federal requirement is designed to protect pedestrians who are blind or have low vision, by allowing them to detect the presence, direction, location, and operation of these vehicles, at least while they are traveling at relatively low speeds. NHTSA estimates this new mandate will help prevent about 2,400 pedestrian injuries each year.

The requirement applies only to vehicles with four wheels and a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less when they are traveling at speeds of 19 miles per hour or traveling in reverse. At higher speeds, the requirement does not apply because the vehicle would make other sounds that are sufficient to provide notice of pedestrians, such as tire and wind noise. The required sound must be recognizable as that of an operating motor vehicle. There are also requirements for the volume of the sound.

The NHTSA sound requirement sets a deadline of September 1, 2019, although at least half of the newly manufactured vehicles must meet the requirement at least one year before the final deadline. The measure is part of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act passed by Congress. The National Federation of the Blind has expressed its support in favor of the measure.

We are the Wisconsin traffic accident lawyers to whom you always can turn if your loved one suffers fatal injuries due to a traffic accident, whether as a pedestrian, driver, or passenger. No matter how complex or difficult the situation may be, the Madison injury attorneys of Boller & Vaughan are here to advocate on behalf of your loved one and hold negligent drivers responsible for any injury or death that has occurred.