THE SOUND OF THE FUTURE: NEW ELECTRIC VEHICLE NOISE RULES

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Normally when you read an article about noise on these pages it will be about the dangers of too much noise, however sometimes a lack of noise can be even more dangerous.

Concerns have been raised that vehicles powered by electric motors are too quiet and pose a risk to pedestrians who can’t hear them coming, in particular for pedestrians with impaired vision. The charity The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association report that “quiet hybrid and electric vehicles are 40% more likely to collide with pedestrians than cars with a regular combustion engine”.

In July new regulations came into force that from 2021 will require manufacturers of electric vehicles in the European Union to fit an acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS) to warn others of their presence. The noise must be generated when the vehicle is reversing or travelling at less than 20 km/h (approx. 12½mph).

It is argued that vehicles are most likely to be close to pedestrians when they are travelling at low speeds for example in a car park, it remains to be seen whether the requirement will be extended to include higher speeds such as those a vehicle may be travelling at on a road where pedestrians are waiting to cross.