Introduced by former US presidential candidate and hybrid owner, Senator John Kerry, the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 is designed to improve the safety of blind and vision-impaired pedestrians.
The Bill has been forwarded on to the House of Representatives where it is expected to pass without any serious opposition.
It will then be the responsibility of Department of Transportation secretary, Ray LaHood, to develop a range of safety standards for new quiet vehicles.
Under the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, the Department of Transportation will determine the:
“… minimum level of sound emitted from a motor vehicle that is necessary to provide blind and other pedestrians with the information needed to reasonably detect a nearby electric or hybrid vehicle operating at or below the cross-over speed”.
The study will investigate the volume, tones and speeds at which the noise-making pedestrian safety systems will be most effective.
The Nissan Leaf EV already has a noise generator installed in anticipation of the mandate, while Chevrolet is developing a similar system for its plug-in hybrid Volt. The upcoming Infiniti M35 Hybrid will also feature the Leaf's 'VSP' (Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians) system.
The National Federation of the Blind in the US commended the Senate’s decision, and its president, Dr Marc Maurer, said the action would “preserve the right to safe and independent travel for the blind”.
“The blind, like all pedestrians, must be able to travel to work, to school, to church, and to other places in our communities, and we must be able to hear vehicles in order to do so,” said Dr Maurer.“This bill, which is the result of collaboration among blind Americans, automobile manufacturers, and legislators, will benefit all pedestrians for generations to come as new vehicle technologies become more prevalent.“We now call upon the House of Representatives to pass this legislation as quickly as possible so that it can be sent to the President's desk for his signature before the close of the year.”