On January 7, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a proposal that would require new hybrid and electric cars to come equipped with sound recordings, making the cars easier for pedestrians, particularly the vision-impaired, to detect.

Now, it’s not often we ask anyone or anything to make more noise, but in this case, the NHTSA has a pretty compelling argument for a noisier world. In fact, they estimate that hybrid noises could prevent thousands of injuries per year.

The NHTSA proposal notes that the noise would trigger when the vehicle is traveling under 18 mph (since, above that speed, hybrid and electric cars make sufficient noise). It also requires that the sound be recognizable as one coming from a car. But the organization is allowing some room for variation:

Each automaker would have a significant range of choices about the sounds it chooses for its vehicles, but the characteristics of those sounds would need to meet certain minimum requirements. In addition, each vehicle of the same make and model would need to emit the same sound or set of sounds.

To be honest, that doesn’t sound like quite enough flexibility for me. What if, for instance, my hybrid could make several different noises, with each keyed to a particular need or moment?

Wouldn’t that be cool?

Of course, I don’t have a car. But if I were buying one, I know the 5 hybrid noises I’d love to hear.

1. Default hybrid noise: the whoosh Cylon centurions make

Hybrids are crazy futuristic, right? For my money, nothing screams “The Future!” like this synthetically creepy sound.

(Yeah, I’m a geek … yet not the first writer on our blog to mention Battlestar Galactica.)

2. The dramatic entrance: taiko drums

So dramatic! Though perhaps … aggravating for pedestrians?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7HL5wYqAbU&w=560&h=315]

3. The peacekeeper: Tibetan Buddhist monks performing a mantra

Because why not spread the peace? I can’t think of anything more likely to calm even the most committed road rager.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feBWSe-lJFk&w=420&h=315]

4. For pedestrian areas: random bits of interesting trivia

I mean, how interesting would it be to learn that the U.S. is 1 of only 3 countries that haven’t gone metric … from a car?

5. For the interstate: Starship Enterprise going to warp

Facebook fan Ed H. offered up this highly relevant (given our partnership with Star Trek Into Darkness) and supercool sound, which seems perfect for high-speed driving.

Besides, how cool-ish would it be to say “Engage” every time you accelerate to interstate speeds?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8d10vQHbZQU&w=560&h=315]

How about you?

What would you like your hybrid noise to be? Let us know!

Related link

Read up on the new NHTSA proposal.

Getting there


about John

John Moore Williams has spent his writing career providing advice on everything from proper septic system care to where to eat in Nice (and, during his tenure at Esurance, how to find the right insurance coverages). An avid descriptive grammarian, he encourages you to end sentences with prepositions and to split infinitives whenever possible.