Canada Gazette, Part I, Volume 155, Number 17: Regulations Amending the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles) (2023)

April24,2021

Statutory authority
Motor Vehicle Safety Act

Sponsoring department
Department of Transport

REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT

(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)

Issues

Hybrid and electric vehicles (HEVs) are significantly quieter than their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts when driven at low speeds, heightening the risk to the blind and partially sighted who rely on audible signals when navigating in the vicinity of traffic (e.g.in parking lots and while crossing streets). HEVs on the road in Canada today have a system to artificially generate minimum sound levels when operating at low speeds; however, there is no regulation requiring such systems. If a manufacturer chooses to manufacture or import for sale vehicles without these systems, these vehicles may pose an increased collision risk to pedestrians and pedal cyclists, including the visually impaired.

Background

For the purpose of this proposal, a hybrid and electric vehicle is understood to be a vehicle that can operate in any forward or reverse gear without the vehicle's internal combustion engine (ICE) operating.

Whether or not a vehicle can be easily detected by the sound it makes is a product of vehicle type, vehicle speed, and ambient sound level. The fact that some vehicles are quieter may reduce pedestrians' ability to assess the state of nearby traffic and therefore impact pedestrian safety. This is also the case when other auditory cues, such as the noise from the vehicle's tires and wind resistance, are less noticeable. The lack of detectability of quieter cars could be remediated if they were fitted with synthetic sound generators that emulate the sound of typical ICE vehicles and if future specifications for the vehicle sounds could be specified in terms of objectively measured parameters.

Over the five years between2013 and2017, there were an estimated 19fatalities and 991injuries stemming from collisions involving light duty HEVs and pedestrians in Canada. Further, there were an additional 3fatalities and 523injuries stemming from collisions involving light duty HEVs and cyclists. footnote 1

In2016, both the United Nations (UN) and the United States (U.S.) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) adopted regulations specifying the minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles. UN Regulation No.138, Uniform provisions concerning the approval of Quiet Road Transport Vehicles with regard to their reduced audibility, was adopted by the UN at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) in2016 and came into force on October5,2016. On December14,2016, the U.S. NHTSA published a final rule introducing the new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) entitled Standard No.141; Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (FMVSS 141). Both the U.S. and UN regulations require that hybrid and electric light vehicles produce sound levels meeting their respective standards.

When calculating the benefits of their rulemaking, the NHTSA found that HEVs were approximately 20%more likely to collide with a pedestrian and approximately 50%more likely to collide with pedal cyclists than their ICE counterparts. footnote 2

The European Parliament, which references UN Regulation No.138, requires that an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS) be installed in all new vehicles by July1,2019. In the United States, new hybrid and electric light passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, buses and low-speed vehicles must comply with FMVSS141 as of September1,2018. In the United States, compliance is not required until March1,2021, for small volume manufacturers.

Following the development of regulations in the United States and the UN, Transport Canada analyzed the potential to implement a Quiet Road Transportation Vehicle (QRTV) regulation. The intent of the regulation was to require hybrid and electric vehicles to integrate a system that produced a sound at low operating speeds in order to help detection of these vehicles by those who are visually impaired. A public notice was published on January4,2018, with a comment closing date of February19,2018. Work on this initiative was put on hold as Transport Canada was awaiting the development of a global technical regulation (GTR) at the UNECE that would have harmonized the U.S. and UN regulations. As the process for establishing a GTR for HEVs was not successful, Transport Canada is moving forward by proposing regulations for minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles.

Under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act, Transport Canada regulates the safety performance of motor vehicles and equipment to reduce the risk of death, injury, and damage to property and the environment. In this regard, the Act requires that any company that imports vehicles or makes vehicles in one province and sells them in another province certify that these new vehicles meet all applicable safety regulations and standards.

Objective

The objective of this proposal is to introduce a requirement in Canadian regulations for hybrid and electric light vehicles to meet minimum sound requirements at low speeds in order to maintain a minimum level of safety for pedestrians and pedal cyclists, including the blind and visually impaired. The minimum sound generated by hybrid and electric light vehicles would be comparable to the sound generated by conventionally powered vehicles.

It is important to note that HEVs currently on the road in Canada voluntarily conform to either the U.S. or UN requirements. The goal would be to incorporate the two sets of requirements into a Canadian standard, allowing manufacturers to choose which requirement to adopt (i.e.either the U.S. or UN requirement), thereby codifying an already existing practice. Not only would this ensure alignment of the Canadian standard with both the U.S. and UN standards, but it would also demonstrate Transport Canada's commitment to addressing issues that disproportionately affect persons with disabilities.

Description

It is proposed that the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) be amended to introduce Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS)141—Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (CMVSS141). The proposed safety standard includes requirements to testable acoustic parameters when the vehicle is about to move or is moving at low speeds. These requirements would ensure that blind, visually impaired, and other pedestrians and pedal cyclists are able to detect and recognize nearby hybrid and electric vehicles. These specifications should allow the pedestrian to recognize that there is a vehicle present, where that vehicle is, and in what state it is operating, more precisely, if the vehicle is accelerating or decelerating, going forward or reversing.

To align with UN and U.S. requirements, companies would be given the choice of complying with the requirements of either the U.S. or UN regulation for vehicles specified in the scope of CMVSS141. The choice of compliance was proposed based on both regulations meeting the intention for electric and electric hybrid vehicles to make a noise during low-speed operation, while limiting the cost and complications for manufacturers producing vehicles for different markets. In regard to the specific differences between the sets of technical requirements, a summary is presented in the “Rationale” section.

This proposed amendment would modify ScheduleIII of the MVSR by adding CMVSS141—Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles. In addition, the proposed amendment would modify ScheduleIV by incorporating by reference, as amended from time to time, sections of the U.S. FMVSS141, Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles and UN Regulation No.138, Uniform provisions concerning the approval of Quiet Road Transport Vehicles with regard to their reduced audibility.

As HEV models in Canada that are also sold in the United States and/or European Union (EU) markets already voluntarily comply with either the U.S. or UN standard, all targeted vehicles should already meet the requirements of the final standard when it is published in the Canada Gazette, PartII. At this time, there are no Canadian-specific HEV models that do not meet U.S. or EU minimum noise requirements.

The MVSR incorporate Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (CMVSS)1106—Noise emissions, which outlines requirements for maximum vehicle noise emissions. The requirements of FMVSS141 and UN RegulationNo.138 do not conflict with the existing maximum sound emissions, and their implementation in current or future vehicles is not hindered or prevented by this standard.

Regulatory development

Consultation

Transport Canada informs the automotive industry, public safety organizations, and the general public when changes are planned to the MVSR. This is done, in part, through the quarterly distribution of Transport Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Regulatory Plan. The Regulatory Plan gives stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes. Transport Canada also consults regularly, in face-to-face meetings or teleconferences, with the automotive industry, public safety organizations, the provinces, and the territories. For example, Transport Canada meets face-to-face with the two automotive manufacturing associations (Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association and Global Automakers of Canada) three times a year to discuss current regulations and future regulatory planning. The proposed amendment was included in the Regulatory Plan and was discussed at multiple meetings with stakeholders leading up to the formal consultation in a public notice (see the “Public notice” section below). Stakeholders expressed their support for the regulations.

Transport Canada also meets regularly with the federal authorities of other countries, as aligned regulations are central to trade and to a competitive Canadian automotive industry. For example, Transport Canada and the United States Department of Transportation hold semi-annual meetings to discuss issues of mutual importance and planned regulatory changes.

Initial comments from the Regroupement des aveugles et amblyopes du Québec

The Regroupement des aveugles et amblyopes du Québec (RAAQ), which represents the blind and partially sighted in the province of Quebec, has recommended for years that Transport Canada introduce regulations requiring hybrid and electric vehicles to make additional sound when travelling below 30km/h. The RAAQ has written several letters to Transport Canada over the past 10years regarding the safe travel of the blind and partially sighted and the risks posed to this group by the lack of sound produced by hybrid and electric vehicles travelling below 30km/h. The RAAQ also expressed some concerns with reduced effectiveness regarding UN Regulation No.138 series00, which allows a pause function footnote 3 on the Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (see the “Transport Canada response to comments” section below). In support of the proposal, the RAAQ requested that Transport Canada introduce a regulation mandating additional sound for this class of vehicles.

Public notice

A public notice was published on the Let's Talk Transportation website on January4,2018, with a comment closing date of February19,2018. Stakeholders were invited to provide comments in a public discussion forum or to send more detailed submissions via email. Only a few comments were received on the public discussion forum. Most commenters agreed that the MVSR should be amended to require a minimum sound level safety standard for hybrid and electric vehicles to provide an increased measure of safety for pedestrians and pedal cyclists.

The Global Automakers of Canada (GAC) informed Transport Canada that of the two options being considered—FMVSS141 and UN Regulation No.138—neither has been positioned as superior to the other, and from their point of view, the only difference is in their operational criteria and both would appear to meet the intent of the regulatory proposal. The GAC stated that it would be appreciated if manufacturers could have the choice to adhere to either standard. They also stated that having both options would make it less onerous to manufacture vehicles for the joint markets (Canada / United States or Canada/international), and would potentially also provide a flexibility benefit for Canada-unique vehicles that may be adapted from type approval regulated markets governed by UN regulations.

The Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers' Association (CVMA) informed Transport Canada that, in their view, an obligation to comply with both the FMVSS and UN regulations would create unnecessary added complexity to compliance documentation; place a greater burden on compliance certification and auditing resources for testing unique combinations of vehicles; and consequently would become an extensive enforcement exercise. Allowing manufacturers to comply with either the FMVSS or UN regulations would reduce the burden on stakeholders and allow them to build their vehicles for the appropriate market (i.e.U.S. market versus international market). The CVMA also expressed some concerns with reduced effectiveness regarding UN Regulation No.138 series00, which allows a pause function on the AVAS enabling the generated noise to be stopped temporarily. The CVMA also commented that used vehicles could be prevented from being imported into the United States if they comply with the UN requirements, as they would not be FMVSS certified. This would not be consistent with the intent of the Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement, which is to minimize trade barriers. Used vehicles that are compliant with the UN regulations could still be imported into the United States if they are certified to the FMVSS, which may require some modifications. They finally commented that Canadian consumers permanently relocating to the United States with a vehicle certified to the UN option would be adversely impacted since at the time of purchase they would not have been made aware of the NHTSA import requirement to meet U.S. standards and may therefore be prevented from importing their vehicle into the United States. The proposed Regulations would not impact the movement of imported vehicles by individuals any more than under the current regulatory regime, since in either case, the individual would have to certify their vehicle to the FMVSS.

Transport Canada response to comments

In regard to the comments expressed by both the CVMA and the RAAQ regarding the pause function present in an earlier version of UN Regulation No.138, Transport Canada agrees that any pause function disabling the AVAS should be prohibited. Newer amendments of the UN Regulation, which would be referenced in the new Canadian standard, no longer permit the pause function. This series of amendments mandates the necessity for the AVAS to remain active without a pause function, which was not the case at the time these comments were made.

In regard to CVMA's comment on the flexible approach, the choice of compliance was proposed based on both regulations meeting the intention for HEVs to produce sound during low-speed operation, while limiting the cost and complications for manufacturers producing vehicles for different markets. In practice, differences in technical testing requirements are expected to have a negligible impact on vehicle detection. It is noted that the proposed standard does not combine both international standards, but provides the option for manufacturers to comply with one or the other. Manufacturers may therefore select the regulatory option based on their intent to sell the vehicle in the Canadian and U.S. market or the Canadian and international market. With regard to vehicle owners being prevented from importing their Canadian vehicle into the United States, the current lack of regulations allows vehicles that meet the U.S. requirement to be imported into the United States while those vehicles that meet the UN requirements may be prevented from being imported into the United States. Therefore, requiring that either the U.S. or UN requirement be met would not substantially change barriers to importation. Current vehicles meeting the UN Regulation may already have barriers to U.S. importation.

Modern treaty obligations and Indigenous engagement and consultation

In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Federal Approach to Modern Treaty Implementation, an analysis has been undertaken to determine whether the proposed Regulations may give rise to modern treaty obligations. Based on the analysis done, the proposal does not have modern treaty implications and is not expected to have differential impacts on Indigenous peoples.

Instrument choice

Transport Canada explored some options regarding its initial objective to ensure a minimum level of safety for pedestrians and pedal cyclists. In this section, Transport Canada explores three options: maintain the status quo, incorporate by reference the U.S. requirements only, and incorporate by reference the U.S. and UN standards.

Baseline scenario

In the baseline scenario, all newly manufactured vehicles in the scope of these proposed Regulations, whether manufactured in Canada or imported into Canada for the purpose of sale, are estimated to be in full compliance with either the U.S. or the UN standard. While TC does not anticipate new non-compliant vehicles to be sold or imported to be sold in the future, the regulatory environment in the baseline scenario would allow for it.

Incorporation by reference of only the U.S. requirements

This option was considered as the main alternative to the proposed approach. It would have referenced only the U.S. requirements within the Canadian safety standard. It was supported by some stakeholders, as the U.S. regulation mandates that the vehicle emit a sound even if stationary but with the drive engaged, such as at a stop sign or red light, which is not a requirement in the UN Regulation. Transport Canada draws a comparison to the “Stop-Start” system present on some ICE vehicles. This feature shuts off the engine, and associated sound emissions, when the vehicle is stationary. An ICE-only vehicle could therefore also be silent when stationary.

Incorporation of only the U.S. requirements was not selected, as there is a possibility that such incorporation could prevent some non-U.S. manufacturers of HEVs from importing their vehicles into the Canadian market. These manufacturers have vehicles that already comply with the UN standard, but not with the U.S. standard.

Proposed approach

Given the growing number of hybrid and electric vehicles on the road, it is possible that future manufacturers or importers of these types of vehicles may establish themselves in Canada. Transport Canada is proposing to incorporate both standards, as this flexible approach will meet the intention for hybrid and electric vehicles to produce sound during low speed operation, while limiting the cost and complications for manufacturers producing vehicles for different markets. The differences in technical testing requirements are not expected to significantly change the ability of pedestrians and pedal cyclists to detect vehicles meeting either standard.

Requiring that one of these two standards be met for all newly manufactured and/or imported vehicles would ensure that the requirements for the Canadian market are clear, as well as ensure that a minimum level of safety is maintained.

Regulatory analysis

Benefits and costs

The proposed Regulations would make clear a minimum level of safety in Canada-bound vehicles. As full compliance with one of the two standards that would be implemented is expected from existing vehicle models, there are no incremental safety benefits estimated. The incremental costs associated with these proposed Regulations are for compliance testing done by Transport Canada and are estimated to be$289,483 in present value over the 10-year analytical time frame. The benefits and costs are outlined in further detail below.

Benefits

These proposed Regulations align the Canadian safety standard with those of the United States and of the United Nations. Although there are no incremental safety benefits estimated due to the full compliance of the industry, these proposed Regulations would ensure that a minimum level of safety in newly manufactured or imported vehicles is maintained to limit collisions in the future.

Costs

The Government of Canada would incur some incremental costs associated with the incorporation of FMVSS141 and UN Regulation No.138, as it would result in the introduction of new compliance testing. It is anticipated that Transport Canada would perform three to fivenew compliance tests per year on vehicles the Department would have already acquired from the manufacturer for other testing. Vehicles would either be tested on an International Organization for Standardization (ISO)10844 track, at an estimated cost of $5,000per test, or in a hemi-anechoic chamber at an estimated cost of $7,700per test. The U.S. regulation mandates that the tests be conducted on the test track only, while UN Regulation No.138 offers manufacturers both options. Transport Canada would conduct compliance tests using the self-certification test option chosen by the manufacturer. To ensure that costs are not understated, this analysis assumes that five vehicles are tested each year and all vehicles undergo testing in the hemi-anechoic chamber; therefore, the results should be understood as a maximum cost. The total cost to Government over the 10-year analytical time frame, from2021 to 2030, is estimated to be$289,483 in present value.

As Transport Canada estimates the baseline compliance at100%, it is not expected that the industry would assume any incremental costs associated with the implementation of these proposed amendments in Canada. The manufacturers under the self-certification regime and the type approval regime are compliant with one of the two standards. Manufacturers intending to sell vehicles in the United States are required to self-certify their vehicles to FMVSS141. Similarly, type approval market manufacturers must homologate their vehicles to UN Regulation No.138. In both cases, manufacturers would have done the minimum testing they need to meet Canadian requirements.

These proposed amendments do not impact existing vehicles. Further, Transport Canada would not test vehicle models that have been retrofitted; only newly manufactured or imported models would be tested. There are therefore no incremental costs associated with retrofitting for manufacturers or individuals.

Small business lens

The small business lens does not apply as there are no associated impacts on businesses.

One-for-one rule

The one-for-one rule does not apply as there is no impact on business.

Regulatory cooperation and alignment

In February2011, the Canada–United States Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) was established. Under the RCC, Canadian and U.S. regulators have committed to reducing existing regulatory differences and to work jointly on new standards so that misalignment is proactively avoided. In addition, the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations were finalized in September2014. Parties resolved to increase cooperation in the field of motor vehicle regulations between Canada and Europe, including cooperating in the “development and establishment of technical regulations or related standards” (CETA, Annex4-A). Furthermore, under WP.29, Canada agreed to support all efforts at alignment of regulatory requirements, provided that doing so establishes an equivalent level of safety. The proposed amendment will give manufacturers of vehicles specified in the scope of CMVSS141 the option to align with UN or U.S. requirements, which is in line with the commitments under the RCC andCETA.

Strategic environmental assessment

In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a preliminary scan concluded that a strategic environmental assessment is not required.

Gender-based analysis plus

Regarding the specific safety risks for visually impaired persons, HEVs are significantly quieter than their ICE counterparts when being driven at low speeds and pose a threat to the visually impaired who rely on audible signals when navigating in the vicinity of traffic (e.g.in parking lots, while crossing streets).

The regulatory initiative is designed to address a risk that disproportionately affects persons with a visual impairment. It would inevitably at least maintain the safety of all Canadian road users, regardless of sex, gender, language, ethnicity or income.

Rationale

Comparison between FMVSS141 and UNRegulationNo.138

While the U.S. and UN standards include test procedures to be performed with the full vehicle on an ISO10844 compliant outdoor track, the UN Regulation also provides the option of performing tests indoors in a hemi-anechoic chamber. The UN Regulation also allows tests to be performed on the full vehicle or only on the AVAS component (for select test cases), and with the vehicle in motion or in simulated motion by means of signals applied to the vehicle to simulate actual in-use operation. Procedures for the processing and analysis of the collected data are also contained in each standard. The processed data must demonstrate that the sound produced in each test case matches its specific 2-band or 4-band acoustic requirements, as set out in the standard being used to ensure that the vehicle remains detectable in all specified operating conditions. The requirements of each standard would meet the objectives of the proposed Regulations and increase the detectability of the vehicles at low speeds. A summary of the required test cases and acoustic band options for each standard is contained in Table1 below:

Table1. High-level comparison of main differences between U.S. and UN minimum sound requirements
AVAS requirements FMVSS 141 UN Regulation No.138
Sound at stationary Mandatory Optional
Acceleration simulation Volume increase Frequency shift
Sound acoustic characteristic 2band or 4band 2band
Testing speed 0km/h
to 32km/h
0km/h to 20km/h
Testing location Outdoor Indoor or outdoor

Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards

The new requirements of the Canadian safety standard for minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles would come into force on the day they are published in the Canada Gazette, PartII.

Companies are responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA) and its regulations. Transport Canada will monitor notices of defect and non-compliance to ensure that they contain, at a minimum, the information required by the regulations, and that companies take action in accordance with timelines specified by the regulations. In addition, Transport Canada will gather information related to the presence of safety issues through public complaints and other reports, and through vehicle or component inspection, testing and other proven investigative techniques. Under the authority of the MVSA, designated inspectors may also search places believed on reasonable grounds to contain records related to the vehicle or equipment, with a view to ascertaining any defect or non-compliance with a product, and request documentation believed to contain information relevant to the enforcement of the MVSA. Any person or company that contravenes a provision of the MVSA or its regulations and is found guilty of an offence would be liable to the applicable penalty set out in the MVSA.

Contact

Jean-Michel Roy
Acting Manager
Standards and Regulations
Multi-Modal and Road Safety Programs
Transport Canada
330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A0N5
Telephone: 343‑542‑8928
Email: RegulationsClerk-ASFB-Commisauxreglements@tc.gc.ca

PROPOSED REGULATORY TEXT

Notice is given that the Administrator in Council, pursuant to subsection11(1) footnote a of the Motor Vehicle Safety Act footnote b, proposes to make the annexed Regulations Amending the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles).

Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed Regulations within 75days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, PartI, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to Marc-André Larocque-Legros, Junior Regulatory Development Engineer, Road Safety and Motor Vehicle Regulation Directorate, Department of Transport, 11thFloor, 330Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A0N5 (email: marcandre.larocque-legros@tc.gc.ca).

Ottawa, April15,2021

Julie Adair
Assistant Clerk of the Privy Council

Regulations Amending the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles)

Amendments

1 ScheduleIII to the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations footnote 4 is amended by adding the following after item 136:

ColumnI

Item (CMVSS)

ColumnII

Description

ColumnIII

Classes of Vehicles

Bus Motorcycle Restricted-use Motorcycle Multi-purpose Passenger Vehicle Passenger Car Snowmobile Trailer Trailer Converter Dolly Truck Low-speed Vehicle Three-wheeled Vehicle
Enclosed Motorcycle Open Motorcycle Limited-speed Motorcycle Motor Tricycle
141 Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles X X X X X

2 PartII of ScheduleIV to the Regulations is amended by adding the following after section136:

Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles (CMVSS141)

141 Every hybrid or electric passenger car, multi-purpose passenger vehicle, truck, bus and low-speed vehicle with a GVWR of 4536kg or less shall conform to:

  • (a) the requirements set out in paragraph6 of Regulation No138 of the Economic Commission for Europe of the United Nations, entitled Uniform provisions concerning the approval of Quiet Road Transport Vehicles with regard to their reduced audibility, as amended from time to time, and shall be tested in accordance with the conditions and test procedures set out in Annex3 of that Regulation, as amended from time to time; or
  • (b) the requirements set out in S5 of section571.141, subpartB, part571, chapterV, Title49 of the Code of Federal Regulations of the United States, entitled Standard No.141; Minimum Sound Requirements for Hybrid and Electric Vehicles, as amended from time to time, and shall be tested in accordance with the conditions and test procedures set out in S6 and S7 of that section, as amended from time to time.

Coming into Force

3 These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are published in the Canada Gazette, PartII.

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