RAC Cars News


Electric And Hybrid Cars Too Quiet For Pedestrians

By raccars Published

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A report by the Guide Dog charity claims that pedestrians are in danger from electric and hybrid cars. Apparently, accidents between pedestrians and the cars jumped by 54% from 2012 to 2013, because electric and hybrid cars run so silently that pedestrians are unaware of their presence.

The Guide Dogs report claimed that silent running makes electric and hybrid cars more dangerous to pedestrians than combustion engine powered vehicles. Statistics show a 40% higher risk of walkers being run over by quiet electric and hybrid cars. The charity believes these kinds of accidents will only increase as the number of quiet cars on the road rises, thanks in part to tax incentives from the Government, to encourage the public to invest in green vehicles.

The charity is most concerned that the risks are even higher for pedestrians who use guides dogs and for the animals themselves. Previously, the visually impaired could rely on sound to advise them of approaching cars, but electric vehicles and hybrid cars running in electric mode are so silent that they give very little or no audible warning of their approach. The Guide Dogs charity is calling for compulsory noise generators to be fitted to electric and hybrid cars, so that guide dogs and their owners can be protected on the roads.

The charity points out that quiet vehicles can also pose a danger outside schools and in busy urban areas. It believes that Government expenditure on cleaner and greener vehicles should include a portion dedicated to pedestrian safety.

A YouGov survey reinforced the points being made by the charity, as 75% of participants believed that partially sighted and blind pedestrians are at more risk on the roads, thanks to quiet hybrids and electric vehicles. About three quarters of survey participants also believe that children and older pedestrians are put more at risk by quiet cars.

Car manufacturers and electronics firms have been developing various styles of artificial noise generation to accompany hybrid and electric cars, designed to warn pedestrians of their approach and reduce the risk of accidents. The noise usually emanates from front mounted speakers and is aimed in the direction of travel, to avoid annoying or confusing people who are not in the path of the car.

EU legislation is in place to make artificial noise generation mandatory on quiet cars but does not come into effect until 2021. The Guide Dogs charity believes something needs to be done before this.

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