All new four-wheeled electric vehicles in the EU must now come equipped with a noise-emitting device that produces noise when the vehicle is reversing or traveling below 12mph (19km/h).
The EU legislation says that the sound, produced by an acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS), should be similar to that of a traditional combustion engine.
The new rule came into force on Monday. It follows concerns that the quietness of low emission cars presents a danger to pedestrians because the vehicles cannot be heard as they approach – this is a particular risk for blind and visually impaired people.
The charity Guide Dogs has been campaigning for the UK government to make it compulsory for quiet vehicles to have sound generating systems built in and turned on.
A study commissioned by Guide Dogs and conducted by The TAS Partnership found that quiet hybrid and electric vehicles are 40% more likely to collide with pedestrians than cars with a regular combustion engine.
UK Roads minister Michael Ellis was quoted by the BBC as saying that the government wanted “the benefits of green transport to be felt by everyone” and understood the concerns of the visually impaired.
New regulations will require all new electric vehicles to feature a warning noise to alert pedestrians and cyclists.
🎧listen to the warning noise below⬇️ pic.twitter.com/EO6JPK0QUg
— BBC Radio 5 Live (@bbc5live) June 30, 2019
“This new requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road,” he said.
The UK’s Royal National Institute of Blind People tweeted: “After years of campaigning on this issue, we welcome the new regulations.”
Guide Dogs welcomed the news, but is calling for further action.
According to CNN, John Welsman, guide dog owner and Guide Dogs staff member, said in a statement: “We’re calling on the government to take this announcement further by requiring AVAS on all existing electric and hybrid vehicles and to ensure drivers have them switched on.”