Electric cars will have to emit a noise from 2019

Electric cars will have to emit a noise from 2019
Safety campaigners have welcomed news that electric cars will be required to emit a noise from July next year.

Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular in the UK, with registrations up from just 3,500 in 2013 to around 140,000 now.

But concern is growing that cyclists and pedestrians are being put at risk because electric cars can barely be heard when they travel at low speeds – especially in urban areas.

According to research, pedestrians are about 40% more likely to be hit by an electric vehicle than a conventional one.

Blind or partially sighted people are particularly at risk, with one survey finding that 93% of sight-impaired respondents had problems with electric vehicles.

Now an EU directive has decreed that all new electric and hybrid cars in Europe will need to emit a noise from July 2019, even when travelling at low speeds.

And existing vehicles are likely to be retrofitted with noise-emitting devices over the coming years.

The agreed sound – a combination of white and tonal noise – will cut out once the vehicle reaches around 20kph and its tyres start making a loud enough sound to be heard.

Chris Hanson-Abbott, an adviser to the UN working group on quiet road transport vehicles, explained: “The object is to have warnings which are audible but which are not the least bit environmentally disturbing.”

Campaigners have welcomed the news that the potential dangers posed by electric cars to other road users are being addressed.

James White of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association has long been concerned about the risks electric cars present to people with little or no vision.

He said such vehicles should indicate their presence audibly, as some pedestrians struggle to see them.

Sally Longford, who’s responsible for neighbourhood services and local transport at Nottingham City Council, also spoke out in favour of the move to make electric vehicles noisier.

She told the Guardian: “We are fully supportive of calls for manufacturers to look at how this can be addressed to ensure the increasing number of electric vehicles on our roads doesn’t create an unnecessary risk to pedestrians and other road users.”

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