Stop, look and listen, as we wait for electric car engines to get louder

Posted on September 9th, 2014 by GEM Motoring Assist

BREAKDOWN AND road safety organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging electric vehicle drivers and pedestrians alike to be wise to the risks of silence on the roads.

Research shows that electric and hybrid vehicles are 25% more likely to be involved in a collision which injures a pedestrian.

Electric vehicles are extremely quiet. The only sounds they currently make come from the tyres, the air around them and occasionally the electronic systems. Recent European legislation means some sort of noise must be added to electric vehicles in the next five years, as a warning to pedestrians. But until then, there will be risks especially to vulnerable pedestrians.

GEM chief executive David Williams comments: “It seems we are all too accustomed to hearing the vroom, vroom of an approaching engine. If we don’t hear anything, we tend to assume there is nothing coming because we are not good at looking properly.

“GEM is concerned that the risks are much higher for blind and partially sighted pedestrians, many of whom rely on what they can and cannot hear to determine when it’s safe to cross the road.

“Manufacturers still have nearly five years to decide on what sounds they will include. During that time, we urge all pedestrians to be especially vigilant before stepping into the road, and to look carefully, just in case an electric vehicle could be coming round the corner.

“We also urge electric vehicle drivers to ensure they act as the eyes and ears of vulnerable pedestrians who won’t be able to hear them and who are unlikely to be expecting to see them.

“Electric cars can certainly play their part in offering a cleaner road environment, but protecting the safety of all pedestrians must remain a priority.”

GEM has issued the following safety recommendations for pedestrians and electric car drivers:

For pedestrians:

  • Always try to use a proper crossing if available.
  • Stop, look and listen before stepping into the road.
  • Pay particular attention for quiet electric vehicles and for bicycles, which can also make next to no noise.

For drivers:

  • Act as the eyes and ears of pedestrians. Assume they will not see you if they cannot hear you.
  • Consider sounding your horn in plenty of time if you think a pedestrian hasn’t seen you and may be about to step into the road.
  • Look for any pedestrians or other traffic before starting a left or right turn.