Letter: Don't pull plug on electric cars

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Sir: Lynn Sloman of Transport 2000 ("DoT wheels out its latest road-rage shock", 23 September) is absolutely right that the Government's proposals for the introduction of unlicensed electric vehicles which may be used by teenagers or banned drunk drivers should be recycled.

However, with some alteration these proposals could prove valuable for both the environment and road safety.

The case for speed-limited, low-impact "runarounds" has been well documented by Stephen Plowden and Meyer Hillman in Speed control and Transport Policy (PSI 1996). They argue that a "runaround" vehicle which has a maximum speed limit of 25-30mph, and is lightweight and built with energy efficiency in mind, could be used by the many people who currently use vehicles for only around-town journeys.

Whilst the authors envisage drivers as being licensed and insured in the usual way, they see incentives such as lower road tax and running and purchase costs playing a valuable role. Such vehicles would help to reduce emissions and injury. Government proposals on the unlicensed and uninsured use of electric vehicles on cycle paths by those 13 years and over are clearly suspect, but the prospect of low-impact, low-speed vehicles replacing those which make a misery of our public spaces does deserve some consideration.


London N16