INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed a new rule to make hybrid and electric cars louder.
The government says the vehicles are currently so quiet when they're traveling under 18 miles per hour, they are difficult to hear.
A government study in 2009 found hybrids are two times more likely to be in a pedestrian crash when backing out, slowing or stopping, starting in traffic, and coming or going from a parking space.
"This proposal will help keep everyone using our nation's streets and roadways safe, whether they are motorists, bicyclists or pedestrians, and especially the blind and visually impaired," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
The proposal would require hybrid and electric vehicles maintain "minimum sound standards" under 18 miles an hour to make all pedestrians more aware they're approaching. The rule would fulfill a Congressional requirement in 2010 as part of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act.
"That makes sense," said one woman as she walked across the street near the Indiana Government Center. "For children at play, pedestrians, parking garages, you don't want a car sneaking up on you."
The proposal would allow car manufacturers the flexibility to design different sounds for different models.
The rule would be phased in over a period of years beginning in 2016 and would cost the automotive industry about $23 million the first year.
NHTSA said it estimates if the proposal were put into place, there would be 2,800 fewer pedestrian and cyclist injuries over the life of each model year or hybrid cars, trucks, and vans and low speed vehicles.
Hear sample sounds and the comparison between a traditional vehicle and a hybrid or electric vehicle here .
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