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Alert sounds for EVs are one step closer to becoming a requirement

The U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 841, The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. Now the legislation moves to the White House.

2011 Chevrolet Volt. X11CH_VT135 (10/7/2010)
2011 Chevrolet Volt includes a pedestrian horn to let folks know an electric vehicle is there. GM

The U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 841, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, which would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to set standards for alert sounds in electric or hybrid vehicles. The bill also creates a deadline for the safety protocols to be met by 2013.

"The passage of this legislation is momentous and marks over two years of vigorous advocacy by ACB membership that has resulted in consensus by the blind community, auto industry, and Congress," said Mitch Pomerantz, president of the American Council of the Blind, in a news release.

The National Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers are working with the blind community to ensure that the legislation will offset any safety problems that hybrid and electric vehicles could create while traveling at low speeds.

The U.S. Senate last week unanimously passed the bill. It will now go the White House for approval from President Obama.

"The silent nature of hybrid and electric vehicles, coupled with their growing popularity, presents a dilemma. How do we protect individuals dependent on sound for their safety, such as unsuspecting pedestrians and the blind?" said Representative Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), the sponsor of the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act, who spent several years teaching travel with a white cane to the blind. "The solution lies in the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. I am proud to have supported this important piece of legislation."