The Motorcycle Industry Council has submitted comments opposing a proposed rule by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that would require electric motorcycles to emit a minimum sound to protect pedestrians.
The NHTSA has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for FMVSS No. 141, Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles. The rule would set minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles, including but not limited to, motorcycles. Pursuant to the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act in 2010, FMVSS No. 141 is designed to ensure that blind, visually impaired and other pedestrians are able to detect nearby hybrid and electric vehicles in a range of ambient environments.
The NHTSA has tentatively concluded that the rule should apply to electric motorcycles, however the NHTSA has yet to determine: if motorcycles provide sound levels that are sufficient to allow pedestrians to detect them, to the extent to which they have a greater risk of collisions with pedestrians than internal combustion engine motorcycles, to the extent in which electric motorcycles are quieter than gasoline-powered motorcycles and whether the required level of sound emitted from electric four-wheel vehicles would be appropriate for motorcycles.
In the MIC’s comments, the organization argued that because of the unique attributes of motorcycles, the NHTSA should not need to require a minimum sound for them. The MIC says that motorcycle riders are better able to see and avoid pedestrians because their sight is unobstructed, and motorcyclists are more alert because of their vulnerability. The MIC also stated that electric motorcycles are not quiet, so they shouldn’t need to be subject to minimum sound requirements.
The MIC stated further that adding a speaker system to electric motorcycles to emit sounds would be an issue because motorcycles have less space to add such a system, the weight of the system would have a large effect on the motorcycle’s low-speed stability, energy consumption of the speaker system would have a greater impact on a motorcycle’s range and the price of installing the system would be higher than with automobiles.
The NHTSA acknowledged that motorcycles have unique challenges with the proposed rule, but it noted that because the rule is technology neutral, the sound requirements could be met without the use of a speaker system.
The NHTSA is seeking comment on minimum sound requirements through March 15.
FMVSS No. 141 is available here.
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