NHTSA Adjusting the Requirement That “Quiet Cars” Be Audible

By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) established a new safety standard requiring all new hybrid and electric light-duty vehicles to emit a sound alerting pedestrians to their presence. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 141 establishes minimum sound levels intended to help both blind and sighted pedestrians more easily detect the vehicles.

An audible noise from external waterproof speakers must be emitted when the vehicle is traveling in reverse or forward at speeds up to 19 mph. For higher speeds, natural sounds, such as tire and wind noise, should provide adequate audible warning to pedestrians. At the request of the automakers, NHTSA has extended the phase-in time for installing the equipment—50% by September 2019 and 100% by September 2020. NHTSA will also consider giving the driver the option of selecting from up to five different sounds to be emitted. 

For more information, contact Stuart Gosswein at