Jan 08

Minimum pedestrian warning sound standards proposed by NHTSA

 

We actually have a story and a brief for you today: As the headline says, the U.S. government is still working on pedestrian warnings. And in unrelated news, the plug-in Prius has outsold the Ampera despite the Ampera being well regarded and awarded for its Voltec technology.

By Pete Brissette

While not exactly on schedule, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) said yesterday it is moving forward with the rule making process requiring an alert sound for pedestrians to be emitted by all hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs).

The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act (PSEA) that was signed into law January of last year gave NHTSA a statutory deadline of 18 months to begin rulemaking for setting federal standards for the vehicle alert sounds. Although that deadline – July 4, 2012 ¬– passed with no action, NHTSA is finally getting underway with the process.

In NHTSA’s notice of intent of rule making for the act, the PSEA standard must specify performance requirements for an alert sound that enables visually impaired and other pedestrians to reasonably detect EVs and HVs operating below their cross-over speed.
 


 

The administration defines cross-over speed as, “the speed at which tire noise, wind resistance, or other factors make an EV or HV detectable by pedestrians without the aid of an alert sound.”

The definition requires NHTSA to determine the speed at which an alert sound is no longer necessary, which the administration said today is less than 18 mph. Above that speed NHTSA says vehicles make sufficient noise to allow pedestrians and bicyclists to detect them without added sound.

The new rules would also apply to electric motorcycles and heavy-duty vehicles.

Some alternative fuels vehicles, like the Fisker Karma and Chevy Volt, already have a sound-making device in place, but most others do not.

Adding external speakers to quiet vehicles would cost about $25 million a year, or about $35 per light vehicle, NHTSA said. About $1.48 million of the annual costs would be to equip large trucks and buses and motorcycles with sound, according to NHTSA.

The PSEA requires that the final rule establishing the sound standard be issued by Jan. 4, 2014, and include a phase-in schedule that concludes with “full compliance with the required motor vehicle safety standard for motor vehicles manufactured on or after September 1st of the calendar year that begins three years after the date on which the final rule is issued.”

For example this means that if the final rule is issued Jan. 4, 2014, compliance would begin on Sept. 1, 2015, marking the start of a three-year phase-in period.

“Our proposal would allow manufacturers the flexibility to design different sounds for different makes and models while still providing an opportunity for pedestrians, bicyclists and the visually impaired to detect and recognize a vehicle and make a decision about whether it is safe to cross the street,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.

NHTSA estimates that if this proposal were implemented there would be 2,800 fewer pedestrian and pedalcyclist injuries over the life of each model year of hybrid cars, trucks and vans and low speed vehicles, as compared to vehicles without sound.

“Safety is our highest priority, and 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.

NHTSA has 14 sample sounds here that it says could be used as alerting sounds, some of which the administration says would not meet the proposed specifications.

PIP tops Ampera in UK

 

By Philippe Crowe

Sales figures announced yesterday confirmed the Prius Plug-in as the best-selling plug-in hybrid in the UK.

The car achieved 470 sales from its launch date in July 2012, outselling its nearest rival, the Chevrolet Volt’s sibling, the Vauxhall Ampera, despite it being on sale since April, 3 months longer than the Toyota.
 


 

This result is part of a strong year for Toyota hybrid sales in the UK. Overall, the brand sold 12,840 hybrid vehicles, an increase of 15.2 percent compared to 2011.

In 2012, Toyota’s UK hybrid range expanded from two to five vehicles: the Yaris Hybrid, the 7-seat Prius+ and the Prius Plug-in were added to the existing Prius and Auris Hybrid.

The New Auris Hybrid, launched in December, is the latest model to feature a full hybrid powertrain, returning fuel economy of 76.3 mpg and CO2 emissions of 87 g/km.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 8th, 2013 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 47


  1. 1
    Mark Z

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (6:19 am)

    The Tesla Model S has no skimpy pedestrian horn. No matter how quickly or lightly you press the center of the steering wheel, a major horn blast will shock the living daylights out of anyone attempting to step in front of or behind the vehicle. Kudos to Tesla for the tinnitus the pedestrians will suffer to teach them to watch out for the EV.

    A friend called the other day to report a new auto purchase. A plug-in Prius now joins the Nissan Leaf in his garage.


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    Dave G

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (7:18 am)

    From the article:
    ““full compliance with the required motor vehicle safety standard for motor vehicles manufactured on or after September 1st of the calendar year that begins three years after the date on which the final rule is issued.”

    For example this means that if the final rule is issued Jan. 4, 2014, compliance would begin on Sept. 1, 2015, marking the start of a three-year phase-in period.”

    Confusing…


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    Dave G

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (7:31 am)

    From the Article:
    “Some alternative fuels vehicles, like the Fisker Karma and Chevy Volt, already have a sound-making device in place, but most others do not.”

    It seems the NHTSA will be requiring electric drive vehicles to emit constant sound when traveling 18 miles per hour or less. I don’t believe any current electric drive vehicles have this.


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    MrEnergyCzar

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (8:04 am)

    It’s been a long slow process. The Jetsons or Blade Runner sound effects would be ideal…

    MrEnergyCzar


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    Raymondjram

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (8:16 am)

    I am not in agreement with that new sound requirement for EVs. What about pedestrians that are naturally deaf? They will never hear any vehicle noise, including loud engines. Will they get their say to have all cars warning them with bright flashers?

    This sound requirement is to “protect” pedestrians that never look when crossing a street, or while walking through a parking area. I am a pedestrian most of the time (I don’t LIVE in my vehicles), and I know when and what to observe while I am on foot. And at the same time I watch for pedestrians when I drive. My horn has been disconnected for ten years, I NEVER needed it, and I had no incidents with pedestrians or fellow drivers for 40 years.

    If I buy my first EV, I will NOT activate that sounder. I want peace and silence on all my travels.

    Raymond


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    Dave G

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (8:30 am)

    Raymondjram: If I buy my first EV, I will NOT activate that sounder. I want peace and silence on all my travels.

    I doubt you’ll have a choice. If you disconnect it, your car will be illegal. If your state requires car inspections, you’ll fail.

    The good news (if there is any) is that the noise kicks in only under 18 MPH. I usually drive faster than that, even on side streets. But for stop signs, traffic lights, stop & go traffic, etc., electric drive cars of the future will be louder. C’est la vie.


  7. 7
    Jean-Charles Jacquemin

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (8:32 am)

    Raymondjram:
    I am not in agreement with that new sound requirement for EVs. What about pedestrians that are naturally deaf? They will never hear any vehicle noise, including loud engines. Will they get their say to have all cars warning them with bright flashers?

    This sound requirement is to “protect” pedestrians that never look when crossing a street, or while walking through a parking area. I am a pedestrian most of the time (I don’t LIVE in my vehicles), and I know when and what to observe while I am on foot. And at the same time I watch for pedestrians when I drive. My horn has been disconnected for ten years, I NEVER needed it, and I had no incidents with pedestrians or fellow drivers for 40 years.

    If I buy my first EV, I will NOT activate that sounder. I want peace and silence on all my travels.

    Raymond

    Yes Raymond, same for me. Minimal noise is ado about nothing.
    With my Ampera, on 12,000 miles I NEVER had to use the sounder. As a driver I have tobe careful in urban environments and as pedestrian I have also to be careful.

    Such a regulation will cost money to all without any improvement in societal life, worse the eventual noise will unnecessarily pollute the neighbouhoods;

    JC NPNS
    Ampera 14636


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    harrier

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (8:45 am)

    Why is this only focused on electric cars? If they were really serious about safety then it would be on ANY vehicle that was sufficiently quiet enough. Manufacturers have been working for years to quiet the motors of luxury cars… see how far this legislation gets if you were to include ICE if they were quiet enough.

    Harrier


  9. 9
    Dave G

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (8:53 am)

    harrier: Manufacturers have been working for years to quiet the motors of luxury cars… see how far this legislation gets if you were to include ICE if they were quiet enough.

    Excellent point! That could be the poison pill that kills this feature.


  10. 10
    George S. Bower

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (8:56 am)

    I agree that a CONSTANT emission of noise below 18 MPH is a silly requirement. I have not had to use the pedestrian horn in my Volt yet. Pedestrians have not walked in front of me unknowingly in my many trips thru parking lots. (Even in WalMart parking lots LOL).


  11. 11
    Neromanceres

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (9:09 am)

    I also agree that this would be a silly requirement.

    I have however used my pedestrian horn. But not for pedestrians. I have used it a couple of times for people sitting at lights that just turned green or other tardy drivers. I find it’s a more gentle reminder than laying on the horn.

    I’ve also used my pedestrian horn to say hi to other Volt drivers.


  12. 12
    Captbently

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (9:34 am)

    I often drive on back roads where there are joggers and bike riders, yet I have never seen any evidence of someone being surprised as I pass them. You can not hear the engine of most modern gas powered cars as they approach. You do hear the tire to road noise.

    Even in a crowed parking lot, you usually can not year the engine of a car backing out of a parking spot. When walking behind a parked car, people pay attention to the backup lights and brake lights.

    As a bike rider, I have had EVs pass me and they sound the same as a gas car. For Bike riders, a real threat is driving along parked cars, never knowing if someone is about to open a car door in front of you. Maybe we need a loud warning every time someone puts their hands on the door latch!

    Back up cameras and warning sensors make more sense than additional unnecessary noise pollution. This idea of EV’s needing an alert has been hashed around and is gaining traction, and because of the the news, people now believe that it is a problem when in fact it is not.


  13. 13
    Jackson

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (10:28 am)

    Old and busted:

    Downloading ringtones.

    New Hotness:

    Downloading cartones.

    Top ten car tones for 2020:

    Farting noises
    Pig grunts
    Jetsons car
    Blade Runner (can’t beat the classics)
    Rick Roll (“Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley)
    Steam engine (from “The African Queen”)
    Disco rhythm track (guess what — it’s coming back!!!)
    Harley Davidson
    Horse clip clops / gallop
    Burps (“gas car”)

    … other candidates, anyone? ;-)


  14. 14
    Loboc

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (10:34 am)

    Who decided that this straw man problem is a ‘problem’? That’s a lot of money to throw at a problem that is a non-starter.

    Can you imagine standing on the corner of a busy street and when the light changes there is this roar of noise from all the EVs? Meanwhile, most ICE cars are very quiet.

    Ridiculous.

    If you’re going to have sound, at least make it normal. Like the sound of a HEMI firing up from idle.


  15. 15
    DonC

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (10:37 am)

    I’ve had to use the pedestrian horn a few times. Always in a parking lot. I try to only use it when the person obviously doesn’t know I’m coming up behind them and I think there is a chance they may step in front of the car. In these cases they simply don’t hear the Volt and they’re walking along, usually talking and/or eating, and seemingly ready to walk across or into the car isle. Even with the pedestrian horn they are startled — no idea a car is behind them.

    That said, the projected decrease in deaths strikes me as pure unadulterated BS. I doubt it’s valid. More like they stuck their finger in the air, came up with some percentage, and applied it.

    Good point about quiet ICE vehicles but compared to the Volt they’re not this quiet.


  16. 16
    Loboc

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (10:40 am)

    Jackson: … other candidates, anyone?

    Blown Hemi Funny Car
    Farari
    Lotus
    Corvette
    F250 diesel

    etc.etc.etc.

    How is a blind dude going to know it’s a car and not some sfx bicycle ridden by a 13-year-old?


  17. 17
    stuart22

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (10:58 am)

    Find out the sound of the quietest ICE car at 18mph and there’s the target for compliance.


  18. 18
    Steverino

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (11:37 am)

    stuart22:
    Find out the sound of the quietest ICE car at 18mph and there’s the target for compliance.

    +1


  19. 19
    pjkPA

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (11:58 am)

    Is this such a big problem?

    I don’t think so. My Buick is just at hard to hear as my Volt at low speeds… don’t these people have something better to do? I think people who need to be aware should .. be more aware… or get some kind of motion detector which is no problem these days.


  20. 20
    Noel Park

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (12:37 pm)

    Raymondjram: Will they get their say to have all cars warning them with bright flashers?

    #5

    OMG, don’t give NHTSA any ideas, LOL!

    Raymondjram: If I buy my first EV, I will NOT activate that sounder.

    I don’t think you’re going to have that option. Better buy one quick before the “”rule” takes effect. But +1 for the thought.


  21. 21
    Noel Park

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (12:40 pm)

    Jackson: … other candidates, anyone?

    #13

    Bart Simpson yelling “Outta my way!”


  22. 22
    Noel Park

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (12:41 pm)

    Captbently: Maybe we need a loud warning every time someone puts their hands on the door latch!

    #12

    Same answer as #20. Don’t give ‘em any ideas!


  23. 23
    Kent

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (12:48 pm)

  24. 24
    Noel Park

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (12:48 pm)

    As to the Ampera/PIP issue, I assume that the PIP must be cheaper in the UK and maybe have enough battery capacity to qualify for some sort of incentive program a la the HOV lane sticker in CA. Also, “Stupid is as stupid does”.

    I have to admit that the Auris at 76 mpg looks pretty impressive. I’d never heard of that before. Or is that some sort of wimpy standard like the one in Japan that makes the mileage look higher?


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    Bonaire

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (12:49 pm)

    Can we just drag chains from the back of the car? To make noise and to show that we are constantly chained to the many laws of regulation.


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    jeffhre

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (1:17 pm)

    Noel Park,

    76 mpg based on imperial gallons? And a whimpy standard?


  27. 27
    Jim I

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (1:30 pm)

    Jackson

    … other candidates, anyone?

    ===================================

    I think about four years ago, when this was discussed at length, my choice was to have the voice of Mr. T saying “Get Out The Way, Fool!!!”

    :)

    C-5277

    Don’t we have enough noise in the world, without having to make new noise to make some bureaucrat happy??? This country has simply gone insane………


  28. 28
    montgoss

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (1:32 pm)

    Jackson: Old and busted:
    Downloading ringtones.

    New Hotness:
    Downloading cartones.

    Top ten car tones for 2020:
    [...] Blade Runner (can’t beat the classics)[...]

    Wasn’t the Nissan Leaf’s sound based on the cars from Blade Runner?


  29. 29
    Dave

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (1:46 pm)

    I wonder if they calculated the number of accidents & injuries from 18.5 mph “rolling stops”? ;-)


  30. 30
    Noel Park

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (3:25 pm)

    Jim I: Mr. T saying “Get Out The Way, Fool!!!”

    #27

    That’ll work too! +1


  31. 31
    gieso

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (3:47 pm)

    The only time I used my pedestrian horn was in a parking lot. The teen walking down the center of the parking aisle didn’t hear me coming. Of course, he didn’t hear the pedestrian horn either since he had his iPod headphones in and could hear nothing but his music.

    I wonder how many of the 2800 pedestrian accidents they are looking to save involve people wth good hearing that are simply listening to their iPods while texting and walking across the street?


  32. 32
    Raymondjram

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (4:00 pm)

    Kent:
    OT: ELR spotted out in the wild.

    http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/01/08/cadillac-volt-based-elr-set-to-debut-in-detroit/?intcmp=features

    We will finally see the Cadillac ELR in the open next week (Jan 15th).

    And I see that most of the members agree that the added EV noise isn’t the solution for the distraught pedestrian. Yet the blind I have seen here are very careful when crossing any street. I believe that the true deaf also are also very careful (and they CAN drive, too).

    Raymond


  33. 33
    stuart22

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (5:22 pm)

    I think the government needs to consider that getting hit by something you don’t know is coming up behind you is less fear inducing than getting hit by something you can hear bearing down on you.


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    Eco_Turbo

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (5:50 pm)

    Jackson: … other candidates, anyone?

    Sure…. how about the sound most ICE cars make now-a-days? You’d need no speakers or other hardware of any type to make Volt compliant with that. I was listening to cars driving out of a quiet parking lot the other day and thought to myself, I can’t hear those at all, they might as well be electric.


  35. 35
    James McQuaid

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (5:58 pm)

    I have hired this couple to drive ahead of me firing exploding flares into the sky :)

    http://gm-volt.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=8834


  36. 36
    Jeff Cobb

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (7:15 pm)

    James McQuaid:
    I have hired this couple to drive ahead of me firing exploding flares into the sky :)

    http://gm-volt.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=8834

    :-)

    That is excellent. You should forward this suggestion to NHTSA right away.

    They might need to commission a study to study a study, and then conclude your insights were well founded after a few million spent and a couple more years.


  37. 37
    digitalrain

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (7:24 pm)

    Just legislate a law making pedestrians and bike riders responsible for using their senses when they travel onto a roadway meant for vehicles.

    adding a warning noise just gives people more excuses to not look for a 2 ton vehicle

    I believe when vehicles were first introduced , the driver had to have a person running ahead waving a flag and shouting warnings.

    history repeating ????


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    Vettes980

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (7:56 pm)

    George S. Bower:
    (Even in WalMart parking lots LOL).

    Probably because they didn’t hear you coming!! lol


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    Jan 8th, 2013 (8:06 pm)

    Sales figures announced yesterday confirmed the Prius Plug-in as the best-selling plug-in hybrid in the UK.
    The car achieved 470 sales from its launch date in July 2012, outselling its nearest rival, the Chevrolet Volt’s sibling, the Vauxhall Ampera, despite it being on sale since April, 3 months longer than the Toyota.

    ————

    According to Wiki, 540 Ampera’s and 53 Volts were sold in the UK in 2012, and that was only through Sept 30th.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Volt

    Sales2012_zps58e6d91b.jpg


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    kdawg

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (8:09 pm)

    OT: Saw my first Telsa Model S in the wild. It was just south of Chicago (again) on I-94. The black sedan looked good, slightly sporty, going down the expressway at 70mph.


  41. 41
    Steve

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (8:21 pm)

    So the idea is to allow for any variety of sounds so the pedestrians needs to guess whether it’s a vehicle or maybe something else? Seems sort of stupid. If you are going to require a warning sound, why would you not want a standard recognisable one? So are EVs quieter than bicycles? What’s going to be done about them?

    What happens if after implementing all this, there’s no change in pedestrian and cyclists accidents? An estimated $25million a year for an estimated 2,800 fewer pedestrian injuries.


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    Steve

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (8:33 pm)

    Jim I: ===================================

    I think about four years ago, when this was discussed at length, my choice was to have the voice of Mr. T saying “Get Out The Way, Fool!!!”

    C-5277

    Don’t we have enough noise in the world, without having to make new noise to make some bureaucrat happy???This country has simply gone insane………

    That’s too long. It should be just “MOVE!” or maybe in some case ” LOOK OUT JACKASS!”


  43. 43
    Steve

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (8:38 pm)

    How quiet is it going to be in a high traffic intersection with every vehicle producing a least the minimum required noise?

    I think they should all use the announcement “This extra noise is mandated by the NHTSA” on a continuous loop. Maybe add “as lobbied for by the National foundation for the Blind.”


  44. 44
    kdawg

     

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    Jan 8th, 2013 (8:56 pm)

    OT: did you guys see this?
    ————

    General Motors announced today at CES 2013 that they will be opening their API to allow developers to create apps for vehicles, which could even be used for the Chevrolet Volt someday. What is your ideal app? http://youtu.be/bkPcsQF0GvM


  45. 45
    Kent

     

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    Jan 9th, 2013 (12:21 am)

    kdawg:
    OT: did you guys see this?
    ————

    General Motors announced today at CES 2013 that they will be opening their API to allow developers to create apps for vehicles, which could even be used for the Chevrolet Volt someday. What is your ideal app? http://youtu.be/bkPcsQF0GvM

    My ideal Volt app is one that will work consistently. I’m constantly having problems with the Driver Challenge app. Sending an email to voltapp@chevrolet.com hasn’t helped at all.


  46. 46
    Mark Z

     

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    Jan 9th, 2013 (5:04 am)

    Don’t “Rush” to judgement on the pedestrian warning feature without reading this timely comment.

    http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2013/01/08/the_silence_of_the_volts


  47. 47
    Kevin R

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    Jan 9th, 2013 (9:02 am)

    Dave G,

    Can you imagine all of these EV’s screaming “beep, beep, beep, beep, beep” while in stop and go traffic. While creeping down busy downtown streets? This will be beyond obnoxious and I will disconnect mine if it comes to be inside my second Volt. I have had my 2011 Volt for almost two years and haven’t had a single close call with a pedestrian. I am on the lookout when in parking lots or at cross walks, knowing full well that they may not hear me.