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Lawmakers Say Electric Cars Are Too Quiet 28

California lawmakers are pushing a bill that would ensure electric vehicles make enough noise to be heard by blind and visually impaired people. The state senate has already passed the bill but the governator hasn't yet taken a position. If passed, the bill would establish a committee which would study ways electric vehicles could make more noise. The committee's recommendations would be due by 2010. May I suggest a siren or some baseball cards in the wheels.


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Lawmakers Say Electric Cars Are Too Quiet

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  • by ewg ( 158266 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:11PM (#24677919)

    I say, make them whinny and neigh and emit a horse manure scent.

  • How about the sound that KITT made? And let's add old-style cylon red leds in the front for the full effect while we're at it.

  • It really is a problem! I ride a bicycle to work, and was nearly nailed by an electric car yesterday. I was looking ahead at an intersection, and had to swerve around a car that was trying to parallel park. I had no idea I was being overtaken by a car...

    The problem may not be that they are to quiet on an absolute scale, but that they are too quiet comparatively: their sound is drowned out by all the gasoline and diesel engines.

    Of course, one should look, not just listen. But electric cars are still so rare

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by areReady ( 1186871 )

      So we should pander to your habits and make cars and, by extension, roads, neighborhoods and entire cities artificially louder?

      This is an unfortunate problem, but the solution cannot be to just force cars to make noise. Are we going to stick playing cards in the spokes? What if cars didn't make noise in the first place...this wouldn't be the problem. Surely there is another solution.

      • by Rob Kaper ( 5960 )

        European countries where bicycle traffic is commonplace have designated lanes for bicycles. Works like a charm.

    • I'm a cyclist, too, but I'm a cyclist who understands that my life depends on looking. I also have one of those crappy mirrors that sticks into my helmet to help me see what's on my left.

      It is indeed crappy, however, it's better than having no mirror at all.

  • Interesting :) I know some stuff going on about after market exhaust systems on performance cars, and how drivers get fined for that. Wonder if they will fine you for car that is too quiet. However I don't think that only electric cars are quiet. If anyone heard Mercedes S600 V12 engine. That is awfully quiet too.
  • Electric cars are no quieter than a Mercedes-Benz CL-Class and others. It's a selling point to have a car be quiet! But oh, no! We have to find another fault with electric cars and impose a law *just for them*. I'd bet big oil is behind this. Nevertheless, it's easy enough to add a little external noise. The Lightning GT (electric car from the UK) has a programmable engine noise synthesizer as standard equipment.

    • by f1vlad ( 1253784 )
      Yeah I am pretty sure Mercedes S600 V12 is quieter than electric car. Time for quietness tax: )
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ThaddaeusV ( 1349439 )
      I've heard that back in olden times, in some jurisdictions, automobiles were required to have a man walk in front of them ringing a bell or some such thing. Maybe we should bring that back.

      Actually though, that was when automobiles were a new technology, and now that we have integrated the concept of large machines moving through our streets at speed into our consciousness and know to allow for it, the idea sounds ridiculous. With energy prices doing what they've been doing, the idea of a personal vehic
  • by McGregorMortis ( 536146 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:45PM (#24680839)

    I always thought, if I had an electric car, I'd actually want to make it not seem so... electric.

    It's actually a chance to personalize your car. You could buy car-tones the same way people buy ring-tones. Lots of selection. I'd like my electric car to sound like a Lamborghini, or maybe like something really cool like a gas-turbine. You might prefer a big throaty 70's muscle-car sound. A geek might prefer something like the Jetson's car sound, or the sound of a TIE fighter.

    • Screw noises, I want my own theme song played every time I drive by. Either that or some excellent Banjo 'gettaway' music!

  • by British ( 51765 ) <> on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @10:28PM (#24684711) Homepage Journal

    We can have a few dead deaf people crossing the street a year, or we ALL die from global warming & air pollution. Which is better for you?

    Better yet, if you're deaf, look both ways before crossing the dang street.

    • Forget the "if you're deaf"... How about people just look both ways before crossing. What a concept!
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I doubt sound will help the deaf. I believe the issue is for the blind. You know, the ones who can not look both ways. :)

  • This isn't really so ridiculous, even as a seeing pedestrian who doesn't always have the luxury of sidewalks in my mid west town, I've become pretty comfortable to hearing when cars are coming up behind me so I know to step off the street.

    I suppose what I'm really listening for isn't the engine itself, though. My focus is on the breaking wind and the tires rolling against the road. Lighter cars moving slower but still quite fast enough to destroy me completely aren't so obvious, so even their low HP gas eng

    • >Now the only problem is, if we make quite cars louder for the blind, does that mean it's only fair to make cars brighter for the deaf?

      No, that would be too consistent for any legislature to seriously consider.

    • I suppose what I'm really listening for isn't the engine itself, though. My focus is on the breaking wind and the tires rolling against the road.

      If I could mod up just this section of your post (actually, that's a good idea! Modding up tagged sections of posts....) I would. Where I live they've replaced some of the road surfaces in our residential areas with a new surface thats almost silent. You can't really hear cars approaching anymore even when they're steaming past at 50mph. It's a nice long stretch of road so cars creeping up isn't a problem; I expect it's better for the people who live on the road too as they won't be able to hear cars flying

  • The blind could receive a device that works like a wildlife tracker, beeps have a shorter period as a car approaches.
  • Please, if anybody is going to add noise to quiet cars be sure to use something sensible and non-distracting like white noise. Keep the volume around the level of a 2,000 RPM gas engine. And disengage the noise generator about 25 MPH (by which time tire and wind noise is sufficient).

    I have little hope that the world will be so reasonable. I've been blinded by enough strobe lights on school buses, super bright LED police flashers, and high intensity SUV headlights to know that the people who design and bu

  • How about playing cards in the spokes?

  • There is something fishy about having a LAW to make your car louder. If I wanted a loud car I would just turn on my radio.

    I really dont see how having a louder car will keep people from getting hit. People get hit by loud cars everyday.

It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster. - Voltaire