Electric and hybrid cars have been praised for their silence, making cities better places to live and free of noise pollution in the future. Its seems however that this silence has its critics, notable, car safety campaigners.
All hail the hybrid
In the current era of high petrol and living costs, low emission rewards and high emission penalties, elevated car insurance premiums as well as global warming concerns, many have seen the electric or hybrid car as a real alternative. In the UK there may only be 2500 electric cars but there are a good 130,000 hybrid cars (mostly the Prius), however these cars have been accused of being too quiet and a potential liability on the road.
It seems that the irritating sound of petrol engines has its benefits, notably warning pedestrians, cyclists as well as other cars of your presence. A recent research piece showed that when taking into account total vehicle figures, there was an increased possibility of pedestrians being run over by an EV than a standard car. There have therefore been suggestions that make it compulsory for electric cars to make a noise to effectively warn passers-by.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe has specified an international standard which will be made law by 2013. Mr This who runs the scheme has said that in a growing market for hybrid and electric cars, there is an increasing danger to road users. The development of a warning sound for such cars will enhance safety and new legal standard will mean that its implementation will be made compulsory very soon.
We think that this is a great idea, particularly when people are being warned of the dangers of using the streets whilst using headphones. Many people are attuned to the sound of cars and navigate their way across street often without looking properly. Whilst this practice is dangerous with standard cars, it may prove more of a problem when the introduction of electric vehicles becomes more widespread.