Anyone have a deck of cards?
Keith Crain is editor-in-chief of Automotive News.
An old subject appears to be rearing its head again.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, following Congress' orders, has proposed rules saying electric and hybrid vehicles must generate noise to protect unwary pedestrians from being hit by those silent marauders.
I suppose that a noisemaker for an electric vehicle wouldn't cost that much, but we all have more pressing things to worry about than getting surprised by some electric vehicle.
And I don't know why hybrids were thrown into the mix, though I assume it's because when they run on electric power they are stealth vehicles as well.
Still, I am not sure it should always be up to the government to save us from ourselves. The idea that we need to have the government decide what is too quiet seems ridiculous.
It would seem just a matter of time before someone engineers a gasoline-powered vehicle that is so quiet the government will outlaw it without some sort of noisemaking apparatus.
When I was a teenager I installed dual exhausts and glass-packed mufflers on my car, only to have it flunk a vehicle inspection because it made too much noise. I guess today that old hot rod would get a star for being a safe vehicle that warned everyone about its presence.
The question now will be: How loud is loud? And, more important, who gets to decide what is too loud or too quiet?
Before I had my first car, it was a very cool thing to insert a playing card into the spokes of your Schwinn bicycle with a clothespin. You could ride around the neighborhood sounding like a motorcycle -- or at least what you imagined a motorcycle sounded like.
It probably didn't. But teenage boys went through a lot of playing cards.
Maybe that's what the electric car needs, a few clothespins and a deck of cards thrown into the glove box. It would cost a lot less.
You can reach Keith Crain at firstname.lastname@example.org.