Electric cars to be fitted with sound emitters so pedestrians can hear them

Electric cars are becoming more viable each day with their longer ranges, quicker charging times and the increased choice of new electric vehicles coming to the market.

However, one issue that has kept cropping up is the question of sound. While vehicles powered by petrol and diesel can be heard easily by pedestrians, the silence of electric motoring has left some concerned about their safety, including blind and partially blind people.

From July 2019, though, all new electric and hybrid vehicles sold in Europe will have to emit a noise when travelling at low speeds. Current electric cars will also have to be retrofitted with devices by 2021.

Under the new EU rules, manufacturers will have to fit an alert system to new electric vehicles so they can be heard at low speed. The rules state that an “acoustic vehicle alerting system” should be used at speeds up to 12.5mph, and also when reversing. They should also sound similar to a normal engine.

Blind people and cyclists listening to music are said to be those most at risk from not hearing electric cars, and are 40 per cent more likely be involved in accidents with EVs over conventionally-powered cars.

Chris Hanson-Abbot, owner of Brigade Electronics which distributes these safety devices, told the Daily Mail: “The objective is to have warnings which audible but which are not the least bit environmentally disturbing.”

The sound is said to be “white noise” that will cut out when a car goes above 20mph and is said to be “very pleasant”.

Currently there are around 140,000 electric vehicles on UK roads, but National Grid has said that it expects as many as nine million EVs to be on the road by 2030.

Ted Welford


May 8, 2018

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