Following reports from the electric car community suggesting that Tesla has begun equipping noisemakers on the Model 3, EV community members who ordered electric cars manufactured on or after September 1 are now getting their first look at the newly-added exterior speaker system, geared toward saving pedestrian lives.
Among the first videos of the noisemaker operating in a Tesla were uploaded on Twitter, with user Zach Feldstein showing his neighbor’s Deep Blue Metallic Model 3 emitting the “reverse” version of the noise aimed to help pedestrians everywhere. Opinions of the noise differ, as some find it too futuristic, whereas others see it as a great safety feature that could benefit pedestrians, particularly those who are visually impaired.
Rumors regarding the noisemakers broke on September 9, when a Tesla technician informed Trevor of Tesla Owners Online that the Silicon Valley-based carmaker has started equipping exterior speakers to its Model 3 sedan. The technician added that every Model 3 manufactured from September 1 moving forward would be fitted with the noisemaker that emits two separate sounds, one for low-speed forward driving and one for reverse.
The addition of the pedestrian noisemaker comes in response to an October 2009 report conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration on blind pedestrians and the increased risk they hold when walking around quieter vehicles. The NHTSA passed the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 was eventually passed, making it mandatory for vehicles operated by batteries to contain a noisemaker. Manufacturers of these vehicles were able to choose the noise that was emitted, as long as it could be identified as a vehicle sound.
The NHTSA estimates that the addition of pedestrian noisemakers will save 2,400 people from injuries, and could prevent between $250M and $320M in damages. The addition of these noisemakers will likely save the lives of pedestrians, particularly as they will be required to be installed on battery-powered vehicles in the near future.
Traditionally, internal combustion vehicles emit engine, transmission and exhaust noise that is sufficient enough to alert those who have no vision of their presence. However, electric vehicles lack transmission and exhaust noise completely, while hybrid vehicles emit almost no noise when traveling at low speeds. It was determined that vehicles that match these descriptions will be federally mandated to equip some form of noisemaker by September 1, 2020.