In 2010, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act [PSEA] required that hybrids and electric vehicles generate a certain amount of sound, an alert sound, to make them more noticeable to pedestrians.
Since hybrid and electric vehicles make almost zero noise when they are at a stop or at low speeds, they can become a hazard. Electric vehicles parked on the side of the road or in a driveway may appear and sound completely inert which, to the ears of a pedestrian, means the coast is clear to cross behind or in front of them. Without an alert sound, pedestrians would have almost zero warning of an impact. The PSEA makes sure that hybrids and electric vehicles have an auditory presence just like their conventional counterparts, whose idling engines signify that they are ready to become a danger to pedestrians.
While most thinking persons would agree that the PSEA make sense, a couple of automakers have become very audible in their opposition to it. According to representatives of Mitsubishi and Nissan, they fear that forcing electric vehicles to generate the alert sound at speeds under 17mph would also lead to decreased acceptance of electric vehicles.
Sorry Mitsubishi and Nissan, I’m not following your argument. You ought to know, by now, that pedestrian safety is just as important as passenger safety. Adding an alert sound to a hybrid or electric vehicle, in my opinion, could only add to the value of the vehicle. “Also, it makes a sound that while unobtrusive, alerts pedestrians to your presence so you don’t accidentally kill one.”