MEPs today voted in favour of mandatorily introducing acoustic vehicle alerting systems (AVAS) in quiet vehicles such as electric and hybrid cars to protect vulnerable road users. Road safety organisations and organisations for partially sighted and blind people such as Guide Dog had called for these acoustic warning devices in order to avoid an increased accident risk for vulnerable road users.
Lib Dem MEP leader Fiona Hall, who visited a Guide Dog branch in Newcastle to talk about the challenges faced by visually impaired road users and take part in a blindfolded walk along a busy road, commented:
“Walking blindfolded along a busy road in Newcastle, I was struck by how overwhelming normal traffic situations are for partially sighted and blind people and how important our hearing is to judge whether it is safe or not to cross a road.
“Silent vehicles are not only an issue for blind and partially sighted people but also for children and other vulnerable road users. That’s why we voted in favour of mandatory acoustic warning devices in silent cars today.”
Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies, who together with Fiona Hall tabled an amendment to introduce minimum noise levels for silent vehicles, added:
“Quiet cars are to be welcomed, but not if they are so quiet that the safety of vulnerable road users is put at risk.”
Research from the United States indicates that very quiet vehicles are twice as likely to be involved in a pedestrian accident as vehicles fitted with an internal combustion engine – most typically when the vehicle is slowing or stopping, moving in reverse or entering or exiting a parking space.
Note to editors:
Liberal Democrat MEPs Chris Davies and Fiona Hall proposed the following amendment to the report calling for a regulation on Sound Level of Motor Vehicles on behalf of the Liberal ALDE Group in the European Parliament:
“Manufacturers shall install AVAS in vehicles. The sound to be generated by the AVAS shall be a continuous sound that provides information to pedestrians and vulnerable road users of a vehicle in operation. The sound shall be easily indicative of vehicle behaviour and could sound similar to the sound of a vehicle of the same category equipped with an internal combustion engine, and operating under the same conditions, and the requirements of Annex IX shall be fulfilled.
The Commission shall, within one year of the entry into force of this Regulation, assess the need to review this Regulation, taking into account, inter alia, whether active safety systems can better serve the objective of improving the safety of vulnerable road users in urban areas, in addition to, or as compared to acoustic vehicle alerting systems and shall, where appropriate, and in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, submit to the European Parliament and Council a proposal which makes provision for a maximum sound level for AVAS installed in vehicles.”