The road safety group, StreerSafe, has raised concerns over the newly developed electric car and its inability to warn vulnerable road users of its presence. The road safety group’s main concern is for vulnerable road users, ranging from children to road users who are deaf and blind, as well as pedestrians/cyclists who use headphones when travelling.
Electric cars have been designed to provide a smoother, eco-friendly journey for motorists. However, because they issue next to no sound, this could be increasingly dangerous for many vulnerable road users who cannot hear a car travelling down the road.
With car technology rapidly changing, so is public opinion on road safety and how new vehicles will affect all different types of road users, from pedestrians to motorists. SteerSafe have branded electric cars as “silent killers”, and are doing everything possible to ensure road safety is still considered. They commented that “an environmentalist’s dream can become a nightmare” because of the impact they have on road safety.
The road safety group has criticised those who have accepted and implemented the rules for the electric car, condemning their disregard for road safety, which has been replaced with the incessant need to reduce air pollution; an issue that should still be considered when new motorist technology is created, but should come second to road safety concerns.
Christopher Hanson-Abbott, Founder of SteerSafe, is particularly worried about road users whose lives will be ultimately be at risk if rules for noise levels are not amended.
Mr Hanson-Abbott was awarded an OBE for his dedication to transport safety; 40 years ago he invented the first ever reversing alarm for large motor vehicles. He hoped to achieve his safety goal by approaching UK ministers, regarding new laws for electric cars, which would see cars emitting noise at low speeds.
Now, under EU law, all new electric and hybrid cars will make a noise as of 2019. However, existing models won’t run the same; instead, existing electric and hybrid cars will be updated and retrofitted with new sound devices as of 2021.
Mr Hanson-Abbott said: “Vulnerable road users, millions of them, children, the elderly, the blind, the deaf, headphone wearers, the preoccupied and the unwary – all are threatened by the stealthy slow-speed approach of soundless vehicles.
“The EU plans to regulate for added approach-sound but not until July next year. By then countless lives will have been imperilled.
“Public awareness of this hazard is already widespread and the UK must set an example now.
“Anticipating this, British engineers have been working for over five years to supply the ideal added sounder using locatable white-sound, shortly to be launched.”