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Federal Transportation Officials Want Sound Requirements For Hybrid, Electric Cars

A Nissan LEAF (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for NPG)

A Nissan LEAF (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for NPG)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Green cars are better for the environment, but the Department of Transportation is concerned that they are too quiet for the road.

Hybrid and electric vehicles produce less sound than vehicles powered by an ordinary gas engine. Because of that, transportation officials say you may not hear them coming and that can have tragic results.

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The federal agency recently proposed rules that would require new green vehicles to make sounds loud enough to alert pedestrians and cyclists.

The Nissan LEAF already has technology similar to what the government wants in all hybrid and electric cars. The company developed the sound for their vehicles with the help of hearing impaired students.

The DOT says the sounds would need to be loud enough to still be heard despite other street and ambient noises when the vehicle is traveling under 18 miles per hour.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates the proposal would mean 2,800 fewer pedestrian and cyclist injuries per year.

“Our proposal would allow manufacturers the flexibility to design different sounds for different makes and models while still providing an opportunity for pedestrians, bicyclists and the visually impaired to detect and recognize a vehicle and make a decision about whether it is safe to cross the street,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said in a statement.

Officials have developed 14 sample sounds to satisfy the new requirement.

To hear the sounds, click here.

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