Enacts the "pedestrian safety enhancement act of 2009"; requires that all vehicles emit sound to aid in the safety of blind pedestrians, other pedestrians, cyclists and children.
BILL NUMBER: S43
TITLE OF BILL : An act to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to enacting the "pedestrian safety enhancement act of 2009"
PURPOSE : Enacts the "Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2009" which authorizes the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), to promulgate regulations establishing a statewide minimum sound standard for hybrids and other inaudible motor vehicles.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS : The vehicle and traffic law is amended by adding a new section 397-c: Minimum motor vehicle sound standards.
JUSTIFICATION : According to the Federal Highway Administration, a pedestrian is killed by an automobile every 110 minutes; one is injured every 9 minutes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that most fatalities take place at intersections with 1/3 caused by the actions of the pedestrian and 2/3 by drivers who fail to yield to the pedestrian, disobey traffic signals or are distracted by cell phones, etc. In 2006, 36% of the pedestrian deaths at intersections were people 70 and older while 21% were under 70. The technological advancements in the design of clean-powered motor vehicles, which are drastically quieter than gasoline-powered automobiles, will more than likely increase those figures. Studies have shown that both blind and sighted people make better traverse decisions when they can hear oncoming vehicles. Those who are dependent on multi-sensory information, such as people who are blind or severely visually-impaired, are most at-risk crossing an intersection by the absence of an engine sound; the elderly, bicyclists, runners, children and toddlers are just as vulnerable.
The ecological benefits of hybrid automobiles are significant; however, the decreased sound produced by the engine has no impact on greenhouse gas emissions. A minor modification to the existing design of the engine would enable these vehicles to produce an audible indication of their presence. This legislation would make possible an engineering solution which would both save lives and be inoffensive to the public. Based on available scientific research, and in consultation with pedestrian advocacy groups, this legislation calls for the DMV and DEC to establish a minimum audibility standard for manufacturers of hybrid vehicles and other non-internal combustion engines sold in New York State.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : 2008: Referred to Transportation (S.7151/A.10248)
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS : None.
EFFECTIVE DATE : Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 43 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 7, 2009 ___________Introduced by Sen. FUSCHILLO -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Transportation AN ACT to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to enacting the "pedestrian safety enhancement act of 2009" THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "pedestrian safety enhancement act of 2009". S 2. Legislative intent. (a) The legislature hereby finds that: (1) Vehicles designed to provide the desirable benefits of reducing harmful pollutants and operating with greater fuel efficiency include gasoline-electric hybrid and electric-only vehicles, and in the foresee- able future may include hydrogen fuel cell and other engine designs that rely on fuels and technologies other than the gasoline-powered internal combustion engine. (2) All of the vehicle engine designs specified in paragraph one of this subdivision, as well as other designs not specified herein, operate or are likely to operate with virtually no sound being produced by the vehicle. (3) The total number of hybrid vehicles sold per year in this state is growing dramatically, and although the present number of hybrid vehicles constitutes a small overall percentage of vehicles, if this rate of growth persists, the number of hybrid vehicles will soon equal or exceed the number of internal combustion engine vehicles in this state. (4) Because blind pedestrians cannot locate and evaluate traffic using their vision, they must listen to traffic to discern its speed, direc- tion, and other attributes in order to travel safely and independently; and other people, including pedestrians who are not blind, bicyclists, runners, and small children, benefit from multi-sensory information available from vehicle traffic, including the sound of vehicle engines.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD00947-02-9 S. 43 2
(5) When operating on their electric engines, hybrid vehicles sold in this state cannot be heard by blind people and others, rendering such vehicles extremely dangerous when driving on the street, emerging from driveways, moving through parking lots, and in other situations where pedestrians and vehicles come into proximity with each other. (6) Failure of this state to take immediate action assuring that blind pedestrians can hear hybrid and other silent vehicles in all phases of their operation will lead to pedestrian injuries and fatalities. (7) The results described in paragraph six of this subdivision are preventable through vehicle designs which take into account the multi- sensory nature of traffic detection and avoidance and require that vehi- cles emit a minimum level of sound designed to alert all pedestrians, especially blind pedestrians, to the presence of such vehicles. (b) The purpose of this legislation is to establish a minimum sound level standard for all phases of vehicle operation, which is to be applicable to every new vehicle sold in this state and licensed for use on its public streets and roadways when sold and registered after a specified date. S 3. The vehicle and traffic law is amended by adding a new section 397-c to read as follows: S 397-C. MINIMUM MOTOR VEHICLE SOUND STANDARDS. 1. WITHIN ONE YEAR AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS SECTION, THE DEPARTMENT, IN CONSULTA- TION WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION, SHALL PROMULGATE RULES AND REGULATIONS ESTABLISHING A MINIMUM SOUND STANDARD APPLICABLE TO VEHICLES SOLD IN AND LICENSED TO TRAVEL THE PUBLIC ROADS OF THIS STATE. 2. THE STANDARD REQUIRED BY SUBDIVISION ONE OF THIS SECTION SHALL HAVE ALL OF THE FOLLOWING CHARACTERISTICS: A. IN ALL PHASES OF OPERATION, INCLUDING TIMES WHEN A MOTOR VEHICLE IS AT A FULL STOP, SUCH MOTOR VEHICLE SHALL EMIT AN OMNI-DIRECTIONAL SOUND WITH SIMILAR SPECTRAL CHARACTERISTICS TO THOSE OF A MODERN INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE. B. THE SOUND SHALL VARY IN A WAY THAT IS CONSISTENT WITH THE SOUND OF VEHICLES WITH COMBUSTION ENGINES INDICATING THAT THE VEHICLE IS IDLING, MAINTAINING A CONSTANT SPEED, ACCELERATING, OR DECELERATING. C. THE REGULATIONS NEED NOT PRESCRIBE THE APPARATUS, TECHNOLOGY, OR METHOD TO BE USED BY VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS TO ACHIEVE THE REQUIRED MINI- MUM SOUND LEVEL. 3. WHEN DETERMINING A MINIMUM SOUND LEVEL, THE DEPARTMENT, IN CONSUL- TATION WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION, SHALL: A. REVIEW ALL AVAILABLE RESEARCH REGARDING THE EFFECT OF TRAFFIC SOUNDS ON PEDESTRIAN SAFETY; AND B. CONSULT CONSUMER GROUPS REPRESENTING INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE BLIND, OTHER PEDESTRIANS, CYCLISTS, AND ADVOCATES FOR THE SAFETY OF CHILDREN. 4. NO LATER THAN TWO YEARS AFTER RULES AND REGULATIONS ESTABLISHING THE MINIMUM SOUND STANDARD REQUIRED BY THIS SECTION HAVE BEEN PROMULGAT- ED, ALL NEW VEHICLES SOLD IN THIS STATE AND LICENSED FOR USE ON THE PUBLIC ROADS SHALL BE IN COMPLIANCE WITH SUCH STANDARD. 5. BEGINNING ONE YEAR AFTER THE DATE THAT NEW VEHICLES SOLD IN THIS STATE SHALL COMPLY WITH THE MINIMUM SOUND STANDARD REQUIRED BY THIS SECTION, VEHICLE SAFETY INSPECTIONS REQUIRED IN THIS STATE SHALL INCLUDE INSPECTION OF SOUND-EMITTING COMPONENTS TO INSURE THAT THEY ARE FUNC- TIONING PROPERLY IN ORDER TO PROVIDE MAXIMUM SAFETY TO PEDESTRIANS IN THIS STATE. VEHICLES THAT FAIL TO MEET THE MINIMUM SOUND STANDARD SHALL NOT TRAVEL ON THE ROADS OF THIS STATE. S 4. This act shall take effect immediately.