Electric Cars - Danger to Pedestrians?

Should electric cars be made safer for pedestrians and the blind?

A new movement has called for a need for the increase in pedestrian safety for all new electric and hybrid cars sold in Europe. The proposed plans call for a noise to be emitted from cars travelling at low speed from July 2019.  

With over 130,000 electric vehicles registered in Britain, and the National Grid predicting as many as nine million electric vehicles by 2030; fears are growing fears that quiet electric and hybrid cars will become a silent killer. 

At low speeds, with minimal tyre noise and obviously a lack of engine noise, electric vehicles can barely be heard. To most, this is an inconvenience when looking to cross the road and not paying full attention to the hedgehog safety advert - Think, look Twice. However, to some more vulnerable road users, it becomes more critical to have a way of detecting a silent car when a lack of sight already impedes mobility and the use of a stick or even guide dog is not enough.

James White from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association explains: the charity's own research shows electric cars are 40 percent more likely to hit a pedestrian than a traditional vehicle. In 2015, Karl Denning - who is almost completely blind - was hit by the same hybrid car twice near his home.

After listening for the usual sounds of approaching cars, Denning stepped off the pavement to be met with a Toyota Prius. Just a month later, the same vehicle hit him on the same stretch of road.

The Hybrid Danger Solution?

UN adviser on quiet road transport vehicles, Chris Hanson-Abbott, believes white noise should be emitted from silent cars at low speeds. White noise, expected to sound like rain - "is well-suited because the source direction of that sound is instantly clear". The EU is stated to be compiling plans for compulsory sounds for all new electric and plug-in hybrid cars from mid-2019.

What do you think? Is white noise the right approach or is it all much-ado-about-nothing? Or are there some better sounds you can think off, possibly considering a proximity-based warning...

electric cars silent killers danger