Plans to tackle ‘silent killer’ cars

12.00 | 23 November 2012 | | 3 comments

Vehicle manufacturers will be required to install artificial noise on new electric and hybrid vehicles to prevent people being hit by the “silent killers”, according to the Telegraph.

International standards, which have already been drawn up by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, are expected to become legally binding regulations by the end of next year. The move comes as the popularity of fuel-efficient hybrid and electric cars grows, with motorists look for ways to tackle soaring petrol costs.

Research carried out last year by TRL found, taking into account the number of vehicles on the road, pedestrians were more likely to be hit by an electric car than a conventional one. It also found that electric and hybrid cars were quieter than conventional vehicles in the first five metres after a standing start, such as at a pedestrian crossing.

The UN agency has been working on developing noise standards for some time and its regulations will be binding on the EU as well as other major industrial countries.

Christian This, the chairman of the team working on the project, said: “The development of acoustic warning devices for electric and hybrid electric vehicles will be an important element to enhance the safety of these vehicles. A regulation will ensure a consistent approach across the industry, which is key for the effectiveness and acceptance of such devices.”

Robert Gifford, executive director of PACTS, said: “This European initiative is welcome since it would avoid the potential of an unintended consequence of policy: in attempting to tackle climate change, we see a rise in pedestrian and cyclists deaths or injuries.

Norman Baker, transport minister, said: “I recognise that there are genuine concerns about quiet vehicles and we need to make sure that electric vehicles do not pose any additional threat to pedestrians.

“We are supportive of the non-mandatory introduction of these added sound systems, particularly for vehicles that travel at less than 20mph. This is when they are quietest and potentially pose the greater danger.”

Click here to read the full Telegraph report.


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    There’s a heck of a difference between “cars emitting noise” and “traffic noise”.

    We are trained to use our ears, indeed all our senses.

    pete, liverpool
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    Oh dear. Two steps forward, one step back. One of the bugbears of modern living is traffic noise. We make cars silent – then we want to make them audible again. Why can’t we do what we’re supposed to do now – use our eyes to look out for each other.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Firstly, it’s somewhat amazing that reputabale car manufacturers have not all dealt with this risk at source.

    Secondly, it would seem that this government’s abhorence of legislation has no bounds. Norman Baker is quoted as supporting “non-mandatory” measures. I would ask the question why regulation is unnecessary – surely it’s a very simple matter to amend existing vehicle regulations and in doing so this would prevent entry to the market for unsafe vehicles.

    pete, liverpool
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