The European Parliament has voted to make “acoustic vehicle alerting systems” mandatory for all new electric and hybrid cars starting in 2019 (the US has required similar systems since 2011).
British MEPs and advocacy groups for the blind were among those lobbying for the new rule.
“Quiet electric cars could become a common sight on our roads in years to come but we have to ensure that this doesn’t jeopardise the safety of blind and partially-sighted people,” said Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies. “The acoustic warning devices will make a sound very similar to that of cars with a regular combustion engine so that people will be able to clearly hear these vehicles, allowing them to judge how safe a road is to cross.”
In fact, the rules don’t specify what kind of sound will be required, so presumably EV makers that already provide optional sound generating devices, such as Daimler, will be able to keep their existing offerings.
Ironically, the new requirement is part of a package of EU legislation that will require ICE vehicles to make less noise. The new rules will decrease noise by four decibels for passenger cars, vans and buses, and by three decibels for trucks. “These measures will reduce vehicle noise nuisance by some 25 per cent,” said the European Commission.