A vote yesterday by the European Parliament is set to lead to the new rules coming into force by the end of next year regarding electric and hybrid cars being fitted with artificial noise.
Campaign groups including Guide Dogs for the Blind have long been fighting for the current laws to change, highlighting the danger posed to pedestrians from cars that run almost silent at low speed.
TRL, formerly the Government’s Transport Research Laboratory, found that, taking into account the number of vehicles on the road, the chances of a pedestrian being hit by an electric car were actually higher than by a standard model, having conducted research into road traffic accidents.
Though it isn’t compulsory, under the Highway Code cyclists are advised to fit a bell on their bike but there is nothing included to address electric and hybrid cars that have become increasingly popular on the roads in the past 5 years – According to the latest industry figures there are as many as 2,703 electric and 133,555 hybrid cars on Britain’s roads.
The original proposal was to make the fitting of artificial noise on cars voluntary however the stricter regulations have since been given new weight by European MPs and in-turn could lead to higher car insurance premiums for those driving electric cars.
Whilst the law has yet to be ratified by the European Council of ministers, should it be passed as expected, it would bring in the EU in line with foreign counterparts such as the US and Japan who already have laws in place dealing with the problem of silent cars.
Richard Leaman, chief executive of Guide Dogs for the Blind, speaking recently said:
“People with sight loss rely on hearing noise from cars and vans to identify a safe gap in the traffic to cross a road,”
“This change will make our roads safer and help protect not only blind and partially sighted people, but pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable road users.”