Washington, D.C. – The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is taking the first major step toward proposing regulations that may require automakers to add noisemakers to “silent” cars such as hybrids and electric vehicles.

The measures are intended to protect unsuspecting pedestrians and the visually impaired who may not know that there are cars nearby.

“America’s streets must be safe for everyone who uses them,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “As we improve the environment with cleaner cars, we must also consider how it affects those on bikes and on foot.”

The action is mandated by the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 and will help NHTSA lay the groundwork for a proposed rulemaking that will help pedestrians detect the presence of quieter vehicles. The agency will evaluate the merits of possible rulemakings, including requiring electric and hybrid carmakers to add sounds that will alert people when the vehicles are operating at low speeds.

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