New electric cars must now make a noise under new EU law

Today marks the introduction of a new rule coming into force in Britain. From today, electric cars must feature a noise-emitting device to warn pedestrians of their presence. All new EVs must make a noise which emulates the way a traditional engine sounds but not necessarily the specific noise. It must be able to convey things such as acceleration or deceleration to pedestrians or cyclists to keep them safe. The car must also be fitted with an acoustic vehicle alert system (AVAS) when a car is accelerating or reversing below 12mph. 

The volume of the noise must also be at least 56db in volume but must not exceed 75db.

According to the EU, pedestrians and cyclists are most likely to be near cars when at lower speeds such as in traffic or going in an out of car parks.

However, the system will be able to be deactivated by the driver if necessary.

Roads minister Michael Ellis said: “The Government wants the benefits of green transport to be felt by everyone, and understands the concerns of the visually impaired about the possible hazards posed by quiet electric vehicles.

“This new requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road.”

From 2021, all new electric cars must have an Avas, not just new ones that are manufactured.

The reason for these systems being introduced is due to concerns about pedestrian safety.

Hugh Huddy, RNIB Policy Manager, said: “The very low sound levels on electric and hybrid vehicles make them a potential danger to blind and partially sighted pedestrians like me, because we need the sound of a vehicle to know it is there.

“After years of campaigning on this issue, we welcome the new regulations coming into force, which will ensure that all new electric vehicles have audible warning sounds.

“However, it will take time for the new Audible Vehicle Alert System, or AVAS, to apply to electric cars everywhere and we remain concerned that existing electric cars on the roads won’t be fitted with this essential safety feature for years – creating a discrepancy in safety standards on Britain’s roads until 2021.”

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