Are Electric Cars a Danger to the Blind?
Advocacy Groups Call for Electric Cars with Sound Emitting Technology
New research by the charity Guide Dogs shows that quiet hybrid or electric vehicles are 40% more likely to collide with pedestrians than cars with petrol or diesel engines. The charity is campaigning for the government to mandate the use of noise emitters in electric vehicles.
As part of their Safe and Sound campaign, Guide Dogs are encouraging supporters to contact their local MP, petitioning for the £500 million subsidies set aside for electric and hybrid vehicles to be conditional on manufacturers making these vehicles audible to pedestrians. Tests have shown that vehicles powered by electric engines are particularly hard to detect when travelling at speeds of 32km/h or under.
The EU have already made a ruling that will require all electric and hybrid vehicles to produce artificial engine noise by 2021. Guide Dogs would like to see the UK move faster on this by introducing stricter national regulation before the EU legislation comes into place.
In other parts of the world, legislation has already been put in place to ensure quiet vehicles make noise. In the US, The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 was signed into law on January 4th, 2011. The law sets out to create a research program to establish a satisfactory safety standard that would enable the blind and other pedestrians to detect an oncoming vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is set to make a ruling at the end of 2015 on an industry-wide standard for the types, loudness and activation speed of noises to be implemented in electric vehicles. Many car manufacturers have been supportive of introducing noise emitters, but have raised concerns about whether electric vehicles would need to make noise while not in motion and the levels of noise heard inside the vehicle
We’ll be keeping a close eye on how this case develops and how this may affect the motor trade business. More than 22,000 plug in electric vehicles have been registered in the UK between 2010 and 2014 alone. If the UK were to introduce legislation requiring retrofitting electric and hybrid vehicles with noise emitters, this would not only benefit pedestrians but also the motor trade and car accessory fitting industry.
Photo by Alan Trotter