US authorities add noise to silent electric vehicles

Electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Roadster could be fitted with artificial noise generators in the US, according to a new announcement from American authorities.

The sounds of electric vehicles, (or the lack of them!) is rapidly becoming a safety issue for both government and car manufacturers. So, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced an assessment of how to best protect "unsuspecting pedestrians and the visually-impaired from accidents involving hybrid and electric vehicles."
The result might not please noise pollution campaigners, but this study will consider how adding artificial noise to electric cars will affect those on bikes and foot.

Guidelines published by both Europe and Japan suggest that electric vehicles running at speeds of up to 20km/h should make a sound that changes in volume and tone depending on the speed.

However, the fact that the driver can disable the sound in both countries on the Nissan Leaf has drawn criticism from groups representing the visually-impaired.
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