New quiet electric cars must have noise devices fitted for pedestrian safety

Sound must be heard when vehicle travels below 12mph but driver will be able to deactivate it

Jane Dalton
Sunday 30 June 2019 18:17 BST
Electric cars travel almost silently at low speeds, prompting complaints they put people at risk
Electric cars travel almost silently at low speeds, prompting complaints they put people at risk (Miles Willis)

All new electric vehicles must be fitted with a noise-emitting device from Monday, to warn other road users of their presence.

The European Union rule follows concern that electric cars and vans are too quiet, putting pedestrians, cyclists and others at risk because they do not realise they are approaching.

All new types of four-wheel eco-friendly vehicles must be fitted with the device, which sounds like a traditional engine.

From 2021, all electric cars must have an acoustic vehicle alert system, not just new models.

The device must be activated when a vehicle is reversing or travelling below 12mph, but the driver will have the power to deactivate it.

The charity Guide Dogs, which had complained about the difficulty of hearing low-emission cars, welcomed the change but told the BBC electric vehicles should make a noise at all speeds.

Roads minister Michael Ellis said the government wanted everyone to feel the benefits of green transport, and understood the concerns of the visually impaired.

Alternatively-fuelled vehicles such as pure electrics and plug-in hybrids made up 6.6 per cent of the new car market in May.

New petrol and diesel cars and vans are due to be banned by 2040.

But Friends of the Earth has released a new study showing that for the UK to deliver on its new net-zero greenhouse gas target of 2050, all new cars need to be electric by 2030.

The pressure group said a 20 per cent cut in car travel and an 18 per cent cut in flights was needed.

Lisa Hopkinson, of Transport for Better Quality of Life, which carried out the research, said: “While all other sectors have reduced emissions since 1990, transport is the only sector to have increased, while aviation emissions have more than doubled.

“Transport is not on track to a net-zero target, and we need to urgently include aviation in revised carbon budgets and constrain demand for flying and driving.

“As well as helping meet carbon targets, this would have enormous benefits for UK local tourism, air quality and public health.”

Additional reporting by PA

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