Campaigners from many groups welcomed the law after they warned AFVs were too quiet and presented a danger to other road users—guide dog owners and their animals in particular.
The AVAS produces a specified level of noise that sounds like a combustion engine. It activates when the car’s reversing or when travelling below 20 kilometres (about 12.5miles) per hour.
Most generators involve speakers working in the direction the car is going—reducing the noise nuisance to people not in the way—and you’ll be able to turn off the system if you think it’s unnecessary, for example, when you’re in slow-moving motorway traffic.
Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (whose working name is Guide Dogs) have campaigned for laws to make noise generating systems compulsory on all AFVs. Guide Dogs statistics state that two million children and adults, affected by sight loss, live in the UK.
Their research found that quiet AFVs are 40% more likely to collide with pedestrians than cars with petrol or diesel engines. This could be because, in some environments, a person may not hear quiet vehicles until a few seconds before impact. Their data also showed a 54% rise in pedestrian injuries between 2012 and 2013, from accidents involving quiet cars.
In their online poll on the safety of quiet AFVs, 76% of people agreed that quiet vehicles make the roads less safe for pedestrians with sight loss. Seventy-eight per cent said they put older people at risk, and 75% said they made roads less safe for children.
Of the almost 35million cars on UK roads, there were around 200,000 ultra-low emission vehicles by the end of 2018 together with 15,474 registered battery electric cars—a year-on-year increase of 14%. There are around 57,000 pure electric vehicles in the UK but the National Grid has predicted as many as 9million by 2030, as manufacturers prepare for the ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles in 2040.
Making the right noises
‘The government wants the benefits of green transport to be felt by everyone and understands the concerns of the visually impaired about the possible hazards posed by quiet electric vehicles.
‘This new requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road.’
Last October, we wrote how Jaguar had revealed the sound the AVAS would make in their I-PACE model. Guide Dogs charity applauded the car manufacturer ‘for being the first to launch an EV which meets standards before the new legislation even comes in.’ Last week, when the regulation came into force, a spokesperson for Guide Dogs, John Welsman, said they were ‘delighted’ that new models must come fitted with a built-in AVAS.
James White, former Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns for Guide Dogs, said:
‘Quiet vehicles put pedestrians at risk outside schools, in residential areas, and in our towns and cities.
‘The government is spending hundreds of millions of pounds to increase the numbers of quiet cars on the roads, and while we support the development of environmentally friendly vehicles, more needs to be done to protect pedestrian safety.’
They say the government subsidies that encourage drivers to switch over to more sustainable cars means that as the number of low or zero emission vehicles grows, so does the volume of injuries caused by these vehicles.
Driving on an empty road is safer and, as long as other factors don’t prevent it such as rain or dim lighting, we can travel at the speed limit. Yet where pedestrians and other vehicles exist, the road becomes a busy place and, as motorists or cyclists (because they’re also silent, but that’s a whole other debate!), we need to slow down and pay attention so we don’t cause others harm. Take care at junctions and when pulling out from a parked position.
Check in all directions and follow the Highway Code, more so when using pedestrian crossings. It’s also a good idea, when possible, to walk facing traffic, not to cross the street like a zombie, absorbed in your mobile phone, and to be careful when wearing headphones—it might be wise to not block out all sounds from your surroundings!
The other question is no one knows how many EV or hybrid cars are now technically breaking the law by not having a fake engine noise. While it seems the government has rolled out this new rule just for new cars, one hopes that all the major EV and hybrid car makers are planning a product recall to install a fake engine noise retrospectively for pedestrian safety.
Great idea, waste energy making sound on a car designed to save energy. Absolute scholars making these arguments clearly
Nonsense, the noise generator will consume no more than a watt, about the consumption of a portable radio with the sound level turned up. Less than 00%01 of the cars power.
Think it will have to be a lot more than a watt to be heard outside. What is the wattage of those building site radios? Basic car radios are five watt.
Watts consumed and watts of sound are totally different thinks.
The speakers in my theatre system are 75w each and there are six. Don’t know how loud it has to be but will a Rolls Royce have to have a sound generator, they famously don’t make a noise?
I have a hybrid(self charging) and have had a blind person walk out in front of me, luckily nothing happened because I was able to see them and knew that he wasn’t able to hear my car above the other cars on the main road I was just turning off from, so I could take action to avert an accident. I’m more than happy for my new car to have a noise added, to help keep people safe and hopefully they will just run it from the electrics.
OMG. Just buy a nice sounding throbbing V8.
If the authorities want it retro fitted I have no objections
Provided I’m not expected to pay for it or the charges are quite small
“Provided I’m not expected to pay for it”
Don’t be daft Terence…..It’s a way of getting money from you….AND they’ll charge VAT as well….Then fine you for noise pollution.
Hells bells, I’m a cynical old sod!!
Can we have a choice of sounds? Will the sound give any club to vehicle speed?
If the EV vehicles only makes a sound upto 20 mph then if they travel around town at the speed limit of 30 mph it won’t make any difference as there will be no generated engine sound.
Above 20mph, the road noise from tyres is sufficient. The danger when driving in car parks etc when travelling slowly
at 30mph more noise comes from the tyres on the ground than from a regular engine so the noise isn’t needed.
Brilliant, have the option to turn it off if not thought necessary. That must join the drivers who don’t think it’s necessary to turn on their lights when it’s raining on a Mway or any road for that matter or those who turn on their rear foglights when it rains etc, etc. As a retired Truck driver you would not believe how invisible a car without lights can be on a Mway in heavy rain and spray when coming from behind and as for foglights in rain they are blinding and confusing as brakelights.
I have it on my car and to be honest I never turn it off. No reason to as you cant hear it much inside whilst moving but it is certainly audible from the outside. doesn’t stop mindless zombies glued to their phones from walking in front of you though! Perhaps the EU should mandate we all fit our vehicles with flashing lights on top to help distract those mindless zombies.
Mindless zombies glued to their phones, nature’s way of culling the useless oxygen thieves.
quite right – you have a good sense of humour
Bring back the man with a red flag
Giving an option to turn it off is foolish as some drivers will forget to re-activate it!
Just auto remove on motorways, as chosen by satellite ie no pedestrians and would reduce motorway noise a bit
Should re-activate itself on the next start up.
You need more than fake engine noise, maybe something that also uses Bluetooth and can interact with mobile phones. The number of people who are too busy on the phone to look or listen is on the increase.
most car that travel over 20 give off some road noise so i think that is ok
but its alway car what about bike on or of roads you cannot here them most of them don’t know how to ring a bell and should have inc that covers on or of road
Not many have bells fitted Cliff.
Not many have brains fitted.
Perhaps mobility scooters too
Mobility scooters have weedy horns like a quiet beep so that’s useless even on the pavement. If I had a choice my scooter would sound like a proper engine with a rumbling v8 and even then people wouldn’t take any notice. Very few people listen out for sirens so how is a weedy sound on an EV going to make any difference?
I’m old enough to remember the trolleybus. Used them every day to school. I also remember nearly being knocked off my bike cos I couldn’t hear it!
Also, what’s to stop an EV driver leaving the alarm off all the time? Or simply forgetting to turn it on again?
the sound is on by default. when its off an annoying indicator flashes on my dashboard. when I get back in the car to make another journey it is automatically reenabled. its not a big deal as long as its not some silly noise. mine makes a loud motor like whine but I think a media campaign would be useful to educate the public as to what sound to expect. its noticeable if your head is out of your phone at least.
I can imagine some whizz kid plugging his computer into his little ev to sound like an F! car or a motorbike with the baffle removed so everyone can hear him in his residential street.
Regarding the increase in sighted pedestrian collisions, i truly believe that the ‘smart’phone (dumb user) scenario has a lot to do with this. I had a young lady walk out right in front of me in Plymouth, I stopped about 10cm from her. She was still holding her ‘smartphone’ to he r(dumb) face, she looked at me and said ‘wan_er’, i was than also abused by white van man behind me for doing an emergency stop and him being too close.
and that is the real issue. most evs already have AWAS but morons with mobiles still wander in front of you.
Why is it that quiet vehicles get the blame and have to alter when they are clearly NOT the cause of the increase in accidents but the victims of thoughtless pedestrians. Rather than making them noisy, I’d prefer to have them cull those who are really responsible for most of the accidents. Only problem with that is that pedestrians are not generally insured for such damage to vehicles and, regardless of circumstances, it’s the drivers, via their insurance premiums, that end up paying for everything.
If legislation keeps protecting jaywalking pedestrians, then the lessons of Darwin will not be learnt. We’ll keep having idiots walking our roadways because they’ll think, quite rightly, that the law is on their side when it would be kinder, and quicker, to train pedestrians to keep to the pathways provided for them and only wander across roads after looking properly to make sure oncoming drivers are kept safe.
I believe in some countries it is illegal for pedestrians to cross main roads at anywhere other than the designated crossing points.
My alternative suggestion would be to have phones go into white noise production if activated within a vehicles 30mph stopping distance. At least some pedestrians might notice their proximity to danger then.
I have a noise generator in my Prius already…….it’s called the horn…… you know the bit you press in the centre of the steering wheel. Why do I need another! All that’s required is people driving silent cars to be more aware of what is gong on around them and anticipate what pedestrians are likely to do. That’s the skill involved in driving. As a retired HGV driver you learn to have eyes in the back of your head. Cyclists are another problem what has happened to the bells we used to have on our bikes? Why are they not mandatory?
There are many cars that are almost silent at or below 20mph. Bentley, Rolls Royce, BMW etc etc are all very quiet cars. Do they also need to be fitted with noise devices?
Cyclists? Do they need a noise device?
Old people in electric wheelchairs and the bigger ones who drive on roads? They are lethal and tend to bulldoze through pedestrians!!
Don’t tarnish all users with same brush, it the same with car, vans lorries they all have good and bad drivers. 🙂
As far as mobility scooters go, they do make noises as you ride them but as car drivers are so bloody impatient we also think very little of motorists, oh and I’m not old! I’m just disabled.
The article clearly says below 20kph of 12.5 mph for a sound to be made.
Lots of vehicles at 15 mph are virtually silent. Some rethinking is required.
Does that mean they have to buy a packet of cards and a peg.
you are giving your age away
What about the bugle on the back of the motor scooter sounding like something really powerful – see youtube video of it . How about that for a sound system in the EV?
The next protest will now be about noise pollution adding to all the other pollution protests
bishbut, that was actually an objection by some noise abatement people whilst this was in the consultation stage.
Brilliant idea let’s have people driving around making noises like 4yr olds pretending their driving tractors. Even better have a person walking in front with a red flag like they did over a 100yrs ago, after all we are going backwards in the intelligence department.
I was not aware of new legislation but agree it will be a good thing for pedestrians, whether young or elderly, with poor vision and/or hearing problems. Mobile phone-itis is another thing all together. However, cyclists need to be involved with this legislation too.
My Renault Zoe has a noise generator below 20mph but unfortunately it doesn’t activate when reversing! I’ve taken to putting on my hazard warning lights when reversing as an extra precaution 🚗🚗😀
That is plain daft.
I have a hybrid car and due to change it in November. This is the first time I have heard anything on this, I have also notice an increase where pedestrian have little respect of vehicles on the road lots of times I’ve had people wLk out into the road without looking and the bang my car as if it was my fault. When actually their the ones in the wrong being distracted by headphones mobiles or just not stopping to see if safe to cross. I am very careful whenever people are around because you just don’t know what they are going to do.
Many people keep saying it the drivers but I’ve noticed more and more it is others. When I was at school we were teacher the highway code for cycling or walking. I think its time we had this brought back or I can see more bad accidents happening which could be avoided.
EV wont be much use in Scotland’s freezing winters, batteries won’t hold charge. Friend has one and during last winter months distance driveable charge, dropped by up to 45%.
Did the manuf. in the hot countries think of that.
Not sure what your digression has to to with the subject under discussion George, but I can’t let that nonsense go unanswered! I’ve driven one for 3 years and can tell you EV’s do hold their charge! What happens is EV’s and ICE vehicles BOTH consume extra fuel reaching their normal operating temperatures and doing this affects their fuel economy – ie how far they’ll go on a full charge or a tank. This, of course, is worse in cold weather and/or if the driving profile is a lot of short journeys where the vehicle cools down and has to warm up again each time.
I think George referred to an EV, not a hybrid which will need to use it’s reserves of energy for lighting, heating, wipers, demisting and defrosting.
With an ICE or even a hybrid, harnessing heat, which is a waste by-product, will not make much difference. Chances are that a Tesla won’t make a commute from Elgin to Inverness and back in a wet day mid January. An EV favours slow moving urban traffic in favourable weather. It is simply not a solution for everyone thus far.
So let’s get this right, in the light of new technology we have some statistics showing that new quiet cars are more likely to injur pedestrians, but… but where are all those stats from all the crazy nuts on the roads yes we know .. all those that don’t seem to have a clue how to drive, lane hogging for one, hmm didn’t the police say they was going to crack down on it? Have you noticed more clowns stopping in the middle of the road for no reason at all and what about those that want to pull out? hey let’s pull out and wait half way in the road so that cars have no choice but to stop, hmm not seeing any stats for this? and I see this everyday. How often do you see quiet cars plowing down pedestrians?
In my day an AFV was an Armoured Fighting Vehicle, a Tank in other words
Having driven a lot of miles I just assume the people around me on the road or foot are not aware of me and therefore likely to do something which will effect me and or them.
The moral is when drivig expect someone to do something stupid whether you are in an EV or combustion engine vehicle.
Just be aware of your surroundings.
I would like the Magic Roundabout theme tune.
I would like to use the Magic Roundabout theme tune.
What a ridiculous idea. Why not make them shout-out “Get out of the way peasants.!”. What about all the electric vehicles out there from about 60 years ago (milk-floats etc).? At least they made a recognizable natural noise, fierce hum then whine when they were moving. Why not just let the motors make a decent noise, like the Siemens Desiro trains.
Another thought… Are they going to enforce this on “NORMAL” cars that are very quiet.? I am thinking of old Rollers, Bentleys and V12 Jags.?
Yes. Very sensible. I own a very quiet car and a noisy Land Rover diesel. As such, I’m aware that “audible awareness” is a factor in pedestrians and cyclists being aware I’m there.
(Of course, in the case of cyclists, I’d rather I could sneak up on them*.)
* only kidding. I luv cyclists. No really. Not.
Of course I am aware that people cannot hear my PHEV coming and I drive accordingly so no not need. any noise creating devices.
Some petrol powered cars have such quiet engines they are about the same noise level as electric cars below 20 mph. Since a lot of drivers like to play their radios loud it makes more noise than the car!,
What nonsense. It’s not “rocket science” to realise electric motors don’t make a noise apart from a whine. So they get rid of the combustion engine then say all new cars have to have a sound. Solution: Keep all versions of engines as I will never drive a milk float that goes woof!
The same should go for pushbikes, you can’t hear them coming either.
Yep, it just needs to be a noise loud enough to be heard with competing traffic noise.
Doesn’t need to be an ego boosting F1 roar!
Just make maneuvering and driving in car parks safer for pedestrians.
Makes no difference to the millions who are hearing impaired! Perhaps flashing lights could be added to the requirements.
Let’s face it – if we all paid a bit more attention to what we are doing, thousands would not be killed or injured on our streets and roads! Drive according to the speed limits and weather conditions, use fog lights when it’s foggy, don’t use mobile phones when driving, don’t drink and drive, don’t drive when taking medication that causes drowsiness, don’t drive when tired, don’t cross roads when using a mobile, don’t j walk, etc etc etc . You know who you are! Don’t we!!!
Cannot talk for you…fake engine noises. lol…I suffer face sex noises
The popular Toyota Prius has been around for over 20 years. At low speeds it and other hybrids run on electric motor only. Why has everyone waited until there are pure electrics before considering this issue ?
I would like my Nissan Leaf to sound like the Flying Scotsman. That would grab the attention of the whole street.
Interestinf as I manage a retirement complex and when driving my hybrid on arrival or departure at slow/battery speeds I always turn up the stereo so pedestrians can hear me coming :0)
As to animals I think when in EV mode that the engine must emit a high pitched whine as dogs will often bark at the car.
PWM – pulse width modulation – is the method of efficiently transmitting power from the battery to the motors and this operates at frequencies well outside human hearing ranges, but animals can hear it very clearly. It might be possible to use this frequency and divide it up to create something human ears can hear. What about deaf people then?
If people didn’t walk around with their heads buried in their phones with earphones on then maybe there would he no need to introduce warning sounds to electric vehicles!
I see some comments on here saying that the noise is not needed above 20 mph as tyre noise is sufficient. Well it’s not 20 mph it’s 20 kilometres an hour and that’s only about 12.5 mph. So blind people will get a warning about very slow moving vehicles which might not do them a lot of harm but will get no warning at all about cars going faster than 12.5 mph which might kill them. Was this thought up by the E.U? It sounds like one of their brilliant schemes.
What did everyone do in the past with trolleybuses and milk floats? And what do you do with a pedestrian who is deaf today?
Just one question or two having driven an EV for 4 months now and have not run over any pedestrians so far I have noticed the number of pedestrians walking running and also bike riders who have earphones listening to music how loud will the noises have to be to warn these innocent people of on coming traffic they may step in front of?
Just an observation will the outlawing of wearing earphones be included in the legislation!!!
10kw might penetrate the “noise cancelling” headphones!
Maybe cyclists should be forced to make motorbike noises as they cycle through pedestrian heavy areas? Just saying. 😂
I was nearly run over by a hybrid taxi on electric power in a super market car park. I just did not hear it. I think that adding some sort of warning sound is a good idea.
I have been driving a petrol hybrid for 7 years and from day one felt that the car should be making an appropriate noise when driving slowly. I welcome the change and will investigate retro fitting the device.
What about Electric cars already on the roads?
I was thinking about forking out the daft money for a plug in ev but this has turned me off completely, it takes away the usp. I’d be interested to know if the research shows how many of these accidents are genuinely to people with hearing problems rather than hearers with headphones looking at their phones.
What about a Rolls Royce V12 petrol car that runs almost silent?
I think audible engine noise up to 30mph would be fantastic. Will be a great help to those with impaired vision and people who would not necessarily hear tyre noise. In fact tyre noise is not that loud if the car is going in a straight line. A lot of people are distracted in their thoughts and car noise is helpful as a warning in towns and busy areas near schools. So many people step out in front of traffic these days.
I have an early Lexus hybrid, and I shall be looking to fit an AVA as soon as possible – its silence can be very unnerving at times.