While hybrid and electric vehicles are revolutionising our roads by offering a green and environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuelled cars, it is said that there is an inherent safety risk involved with these vehicles.
Electric cars save on energy in many ways and a result, they make very little noise compared to traditional vehicles. Because electric vehicles are so quiet, they prove a risk for pedestrians, cyclists and anyone else using our roads.
At low speeds and when reversing traditional motor vehicles, they make a noise, which warns other road users that there is a vehicle nearby, whereas electric cars don’t. This has raised obvious concerns regarding road safety, as it is harder for road users to detect electric cars when they are moving slowly or reversing, making them more of a risk.
The charity, Guide Dogs has also voiced that low-emission cars pose a threat because of how quiet they are, stating that it’s difficult to hear these approaching vehicles, especially for those who are hard of hearing.
The government is still backing electrical vehicles because of the many benefits of green energy, and Michael Ellis, Minister at the Department of Transport has said the government wants “the benefits of green transport to be felt by everyone.”
These various concerns have prompted changes to vehicle law, which will come into play in the next few years. All four-wheel electrical vehicles will be fitted with a noise-emitting device (called an Avas), which will sound when the vehicle is reversing or travelling below 12mph.
Although these helpful sounds will be used the majority of the time when on the road, drivers can switch them off if they think it necessary. So, all new electric vehicles are now being made and fitted with an Avas and by 2021, all electric vehicles (not just new models), will legally need to have one.
The use of alternative fuelled vehicles has risen by 1% in the past year, which is in keeping with the government’s plans to ban fossil fuelled vehicles being sold in the UK by 2040. Thus, Britain is certainly on its way to a safer and greener future.