A new law has come into force this month after road safety fears were raised around electric vehicles being too quiet to alert pedestrians of their presence...
The new law came into effect on 1st July 2019, meaning that manufacturers of electric and hybrid vehicles must now fit a noise-emitting device which activates when the vehicle is reversing or moving under 20km/h (about 12mph). This is due to the fact that whilst a car is moving at this speed (or reversing), it is most likely to be near a pedestrian.
When an electric/hybrid car is reversing or moving at slow speeds, it produces little to no sound, which could potentially pose a danger for a lot of vulnerable road users. These types of vehicles are hard to hear in normal circumstances, so imagine this for someone who is visually impaired and relies on the guidance of a guide dog. The new law follows complaints from a Guide Dogs Charity that these types of cars are hard to hear. However, electric vehicles could also cause danger to a person without a disability, for example, many people walk around with their headphones in and could be completely unaware of what is going on around them.
The sound will be emitted from a device, known as the Acoustic Vehicle Alert System (AVAS), which makes a noise like that of a regular internal combustion engine. However, it can be temporarily switched off by the driver in circumstances such as crawling in a queue of traffic. Presently, the new law only applies to new models of electric and hybrid vehicles, but from 2021 it will apply to all newly registered low-emission vehicles.
Michael Ellis, Roads Minister said “The Government wants the benefits of green transport to be felt by everyone, and understands the concerns of the visually impaired about the possible hazards posed by quiet electric vehicles.
By Caitlin Bloodworth