Following concerns that low-emission vehicles are too quiet and put pedestrians at risk, the EU has declared that all new types of four-wheel electric vehicles must be fitted with a device that sounds like a traditional engine.
A car’s acoustic vehicle alert system (Avas) must now sound when reversing or travelling below 12mph (19km/h). Entitled the “Quiet Road Transport Vehicles (QRTV) with regard to their Reduced Audibility”, the new EU rule states that pedestrians are most likely to be at risk when the cars are reversing or driving slowly. However, drivers will have the power to deactivate the devices if they think it is necessary.
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The charity, Guide Dogs, had previously complained it was difficult to hear low-emission cars approaching. Although it welcomed the change, it believes that electric vehicles should make a sound at all speeds.
Roads Minister Michael Ellis shared the concerns of the visually impaired and said the UK Government wanted “the benefits of green transport to be felt by everyone. This new requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road”.
From 2021 all new electric cars will be required to have an Avas – not just new models. The Government has also announced plans to ban new petrol and diesel cars and vans being sold by 2040 in a bid to tackle air pollution. However, Friends of the Earth has released a study outlining that for the UK to deliver on its net-zero greenhouse gas target of 2050, all new cars will have to be electric by 2030.
The pressure group said a 20% cut in car travel and an 18% reduction in flights was also needed to combat climate change effectively. Alternatively-fuelled vehicles made up 6.6% of the new car market in May, compared with 5.6% during the same month in 2018.