People who are blind or visually challenged claim that silent hybrid and electric automobiles endanger their lives. The quiet cars, according to Guide Dogs Cymru and RNIB Cymru, need to be noisier. Despite the fact that a noise-emitting device has been required for all United Kingdom-registered electric cars since July, they claim that some drivers have turned it off.
According to the Department of Transportation, manufacturers will not be allowed to add an acoustic vehicle alarm system pause switch after September 2023. When reversing or traveling below 12mph (19km/h), the Avas system emits a noise similar to that of a regular engine. A sound system is not built into older automobiles. As per the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders), more electric vehicles were registered in July than diesel automobiles for the second month in a row.
Nick Lancaster, who lives near Brecon, Powys, and is visually challenged, said he had witnessed a significant increase in hybrid and electric vehicles. “Because I cannot be able to hear them, I have close-misses with electric vehicles very frequently, up to a few of times a week,” he added. If it hadn’t been for his guiding dog Lloyd, he believes he might have been hurt. “Lloyd has stood in front of me to stop me from crossing,” he explained, “because he’s spotted a car going that I haven’t heard.” “It makes me feel uneasy since I believe I was so near to getting into an accident and being gravely injured.”
Andrea Gordon, who cannot see and works for Guide Dogs Cymru as an engagement officer, believes more awareness is required. “Please, we require that sound. Consider how difficult it would be for someone to cross the street while blindfolded, and you might reconsider,” she stated. The Department for Transport (DfT) of the United Kingdom said that legislation would be changed to “block manufacturers from including a pause switch which enables drivers to turn off the system momentarily.”
“From September 1, 2023, all incoming electric and hybrid electric cars must meet these criteria,” it stated. On the other hand, Guide Dogs Cymru and RNIB Cymru want modifications made sooner and for older vehicles to be equipped with a sound system. Manufacturers would require time to integrate the modifications in their designs, according to the Department for Transport.
“We’re really worried it’s going to require another 2 years to put that dedication in place because people with vision impairment are in danger during that time… we recognize of many instances of individuals who have walked out into a road and been knocked down by oncoming vehicles because they cannot be able to see them,” said Ansley Workman, director of RNIB Cymru.