Posted 2 months ago ago
A guide dog with its owner waiting to cross the road. (Image: Halfpoint/Getty Images)
By Katie Collier
Not too long ago, electric cars were something we didn’t talk about but now they are much more common. While they’re better for the environment, they also come with their issues.
Visually impaired people and guide dogs are struggling to deal with electric and hybrid vehicles because at speeds lower than 20km/h (approximately 12 mph) the engines can’t be heard.
Guide Dogs, the charity, has been campaigning alongside other organisations to make it compulsory for quiet vehicles to have sound generating systems fitted and turned on.
As a result of the campaign, an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS) has been created. The AVAS emits a sound at lower speeds, making it easier to hear cars driving slowly. Any new model of electric cars being introduced from July 2019 was required to have a system fitted.
A woman charging an electric car. (Image: Cavan Images/Getty Images)
With work still being done, there are multiple deadlines for when rules will come into action. Guide Dogs was able to change the original specification too.
Chris Theobald, the Senior Policy, Campaigns and Public Affairs Manager at Guide Dogs, said: “The original specification permitted drivers to press pause on their AVAS and fortunately we were able to get that eventually changed.”
Although a great effort has been made to help visually impaired people when they come across electric and hybrid vehicles, Guide Dogs isn’t finished yet. It wants to make sure the maintenance of AVAS’s is checked when vehicles have an MOT check done. It also hopes that the police will have the power to enforce the necessity of an AVAS in the future.
Chris added: “It’s really concerning because the research from 2015 using UK collision statistics show that electric and hybrid vehicles are 40 per cent more likely to be involved in a collision causing injury to a pedestrian than a conventional vehicle, so we’re pleased that we managed to get the AVAS into standards but there’s just certain things that we’re continuing to work with government to see if they can tighten up.”
We look forward to seeing what the future holds for Guide Dogs and the safety of visually impaired people.