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More Noise While Driving Could Reduce Accidents – In Electric Cars!

17th December 2013
Research recently conducted by TRL (Transport Research Laboratory) suggests that pedestrians were more likely to be hit by an electric car than a petrol engine car. Personal injury claims reflecting the new dangers facing road users are increasingly likely as more than 2,700 electric and 133,500 hybrid cars are now being driven on UK roads.

The problem lies with the very real heightened risk of pedestrians, especially the blind, partially sighted – and those on two wheels - who are unable to hear the approach of electric / hybrid cars. US researchers found that blindfolded volunteers could hear a petrol or diesel car 36ft away but not a Toyota Prius hybrid car until it was just 11ft away.

Although the ability to detect a electric / hybrid vehicle is improved once they are travelling at speeds of approximately more than 20 miles per hour, the real concern is over the average city street, which generates around 70 decibels in background noise, while electric and hybrid cars only produce a maximum of 30-50 decibels when travelling through pedestrian areas.

The shift by car manufacturers to reduced carbon emission ‘green’ motoring is proceeding apace and we are likely to see the number of electric / hybrid cars double by 2016.

While ‘silent’ driving of a vehicle in electric mode undoubtedly, has an appeal to some users, enough concern has been raised in other countries, such as the US and Japan in recent years, which led to electric cars being equipped with artificial sounds to mimic a petrol combustion engine car. Now this practice looks likely to become standard very shortly in the UK as the European Parliament considers new safety measures for all-electric and hybrid cars.

Originally it was expected that the installation of ‘artificial noise’ would be voluntary but it now seems the EU will be drafting legislation for the compulsory fitting of "Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems (AVAS).” Although the recommendations are subject to approval by the European Council of Ministers, the measures – which will apply to all electric and hybrid cars while cyclists are currently advised to have a bell fitted to their bike - could be in place by the end of 2014.