A data driven approach to the development and evaluation of acoustic electric vehicle alerting systems for vision impaired pedestrians

The steady increase of electric vehicles (EVs) has led to safety concerns for vulnerable populations. EVs produce considerably less noise compared to the internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, especially at low speeds. Although pedestrians across all demographics are at risk, visually impaired pedestrians face significantly greater disadvantages in environments where ambient noise levels are high in relation to EV noise output. A major reason for this is because these pedestrians depend on auditory cues when making life-threatening decisions, such as crossing complex intersections or walking through city streets. In response to this safety concern, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has developed regulations (FMVSS-141) that require EVs to emit sounds that meet specific frequency content and overall sound pressure levels. Previous work by the PIs has shown research gaps in the current implementations of EV warning sounds that may compromise safety for pedestrians, particularly the vision impaired. These gaps include a lack of uniform sound radiation around the vehicle, creating “dead” zones where little sound may reach pedestrians. Additionally, there is a lack of understanding of signal characteristics that have the most significant effect on vehicle detectability by vision impaired and/or potentially distracted pedestrians. Based on previously collected data and new experiments, this project continues the development of EV acoustics-based safety measures for vision-impaired pedestrians. The project will establish data-driven safety performance measures, such as the probability of vehicle detection with respect to scientifically-oriented additive sounds that meet existing standards, as well as techniques for uniform sound transmission around the vehicle


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Funding: $550,215
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Safety through Disruption University Transportation Center (Safe-D)

    Virginia Tech Transportation Institute
    Blacksburg, VA  United States  24060
  • Project Managers:

    Glenn, Eric

  • Performing Organizations:

    Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

    3500 Transportation Research Plaza
    Blacksburg, Virginia  United States  24061
  • Principal Investigators:

    Roan, Michael

  • Start Date: 20201101
  • Expected Completion Date: 20230201
  • Actual Completion Date: 0
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01754640
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Safety through Disruption University Transportation Center (Safe-D)
  • Contract Numbers: 69A3551747115
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Oct 14 2020 2:37PM