The Following is by Lauren Tappan.
Dialogue recently printed an article by the European Blind Union.
In a matter of months, accidents involving pedestrians, cyclists and visually impaired
people have risen. It is time to take action.It is virtually impossible to audibly detect an
electric vehicle or gauge its distance and the direction it is travelling accurately or quickly
enough to avoid being knocked over. Silent vehicles therefore pose a hazard for the
blind and other vulnerable road users.
In concrete terms, all pedestrians and cyclists are at risk, particularly blind and partially sighted
people, but also other pedestrians such as the hearing impaired, those with limited cognitive
abilities, children and the elderly. This threat is even greater when there is a combination of
silent vehicles – electric and hybrid cars – and conventional engine cars on the road.
All vehicles, whether electric or hybrid, should be equipped with a special acoustic vehicle alerting system (AVAS)
if they are considered to run near silently.
AVAS installation should be compulsory, and not left to the discretion of car manufacturers.
The noise generated by the AVAS should be emitted automatically until the noise of the actual vehicle (noise of the tyres, etc.) is audible and becomes the dominant source of noise (40 KmH).
It should be impossible to manipulate or deactivate the system independently, except during legal
vehicle maintenance operations.
The noise generated by the aVaS clearly and
easily indicate the vehicle’s mode of operation
(acceleration, deceleration, reverse and
manoeuvring). The reverse signal must be diﬀ erent
to the forward signal.
The aVaS emit a sound when the vehicle is temporarily stationary but with the motor running, such as at traﬃ c
signals. Blind pedestrians must be alerted to the presence of silent vehicles to enable them to make the right decision
and to cross with ease and confidence.
Many roads, particularly in small towns and rural areas, but also at many junctions in our cities, do not have pedestrian crossings or audible traﬃc signals for visually impaired people. Blind and partially sighted people therefore rely on the ‘noise’ of cars to guide them. In addition, as blind and partially sighted people have diﬃ culty travelling in a straight line, they often enter the parallel stream of traﬃc. This problem is even greater at roundabouts, of which there are an increasing number.
Electric and hybrid vehicles are twice as likely to be involved in accidents with blind and partially sighted
people in urban settings.
For more info: http://www.euroblind.org/media/lobbying/press_kit_final2.pdf