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SAE Working on Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians (VSP); Recommendation By End of 2008

In the spring of 2007, SAE International was approached by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) regarding a concern about visually-impaired pedestrians involved in traffic incidents with hybrid vehicles. The concern focused on the quiet operation of hybrid vehicles at low speeds.

Based on the NFB’s request, SAE International Motor Vehicle Council asked the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Technical Committee to study this concern. The HEV technical committee concluded that this concern did merit more study, but recognized that it required different expertise than the members of that committee could provide.

The responsibility for this issue was then transferred to the SAE Safety & Human Factors Committee, which formed the Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians (VSP) subcommittee at its November 2007 meeting. The VSP subcommittee was formed and has met monthly in 2008. This subcommittee is made up of stakeholders from several different backgrounds and organizations including: representatives of the blind community, government agencies, academics and automakers.

The VSP subcommittee created three Task Forces to gather technical information to assist in determining the technical issues:

  • Audience for the Specification (who is the targeted beneficiary);

  • Target sound level and type of sound (what types of sounds are necessary to achieve the desired effect, and what types of sound will achieve the desired effect with the least undesirable and unintended consequences); and

  • Driving Conditions for the sound (what combination of vehicle conditions, vehicle status, and ambient conditions are required).

These Task Forces meet independently and report back at the monthly subcommittee meetings.

The VSP subcommittee is first working to accurately define this issue. While working to define the issues, the subcommittee also is working to understand the conditions where these types of incidents are likely to occur (example: alley and street intersections; at stop lights, etc.) As these factors are better understood, the subcommittee will propose and evaluate different methods and/or countermeasures to address the issues.

Even though the subcommittee's initial focus is only on hybrid vehicles, any data collected or generated in understanding the issues could eventually include other vehicle types besides hybrids.

The VSP subcommittee plans to issue a technical report or recommended practice by the end of 2008 based on its analysis of pedestrian safety issues related to the quiet operation of hybrid vehicles and its identification and evaluation of potential countermeasures to address these issues.



The SAE will take two years to come up with a solution they could have come up with in two hours. >_<

Upon presentation of the solution to the NFB a post-reward dessert committee will be formed to to create dessert details sub-committee which will appoint three Task Forces to decide on
1) Who should receive a portion of the post-award dessert
2) What type of dessert would be appropriate to serve
3) What should be the temperature of the room wherein the dessert is served

These task forces will report on a monthly basis to the dessert details committee who will in turn report to the post-award dessert committee in a space of time not to exceed an additional two years.


Just another effort of those invested in the internal combustion engine to avoid the future. Talk about silly!

DRD T-bone

Does anyone have statistics on

(blind people hit by hybrids)/(number of registered hybrid vehicles)


(blind people hit by non-hybrid ("noisy") vehicles)/(number of registered non-hybrid vehicles)

Knee-jerk reaction is that the pedestrians are being hit regardless of how much noise the vehicle makes simply due to bad drivers.

I hear dead people

I wish people wouldn't make light of the epidemic of carnage that visually impaired people are experiencing in our nation's parking lots.

Andrew P

It's a pity folks aren't also taking the complementary position and demanding reductions in total in-city noise-pollution levels. Then not only would you be able to hear the hybrids and electrics, you'd be able to hear bicycles, footsteps, birds, conversations, etc...

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