Hybrids can be so quiet you can’t tell if they’re on. Which is bad news for cyclists and pedestrians — especially walkers who are visually impaired. So the European Parliament just decided that EVs and hybrids have to add fake “vroom vroom” noises so drivers quit sneaking up on people, goshdarnit.
Acoustic vehicle alerting systems (AVAS) mimic traditional engine noise, and auto manufacturers have to add them by 2019. (Sorry, European Prius drivers: You’ll have to start meditating somewhere else.)
Gizmodo notes the gravity of the situation:
The fear that a quiet car might kill you is not unfounded: According to one study in 2012, when traveling at speeds under 35 mph, hybrids and electric vehicles are 37 percent more likely to hit walkers and 66 percent more likely to hit cyclists than traditional gas-powered cars.
The U.S. was also on Team Make-Our-EVs-Noisier, but baseline noise rules proposed last year keep getting pushed back. (Manufacturers complained drivers would be annoyed.) Guess this gives us yet another reason to ride the quietest machine of all: le bike.