New electric cars fitted with noise-emitting device to improve road safety

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New electric and hybrid vehicle models must feature a sound system to stop them being too quiet, in a bid to improve the safety of vulnerable road users.

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A new law comes into force today (1 July 2019) meaning manufacturers of electric and hybrid vehicles must fit a device that makes a noise if the vehicle is reversing or moving at less than 20km/h (around 12mph).

The thinking behind this is that a car is most likely to be near a pedestrian when moving slowly or reversing.

It’ll mean it’s easier for someone who’s visually impaired to hear an electric or hybrid car approaching – the new law follows complaints from Guide Dogs charity that EVs are too hard to hear.

The device, known as the acoustic vehicle alert system (Avas), makes a sound like that of a regular engine and it can be temporarily switched off by the driver.

Michael Ellis, Roads Minister, said: “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.”

Currently, the new law only applies to new models of electric and hybrid cars, but from July 2021 it will apply to all newly registered low-emission vehicles.

More and more people are buying low-emission vehicles and there are some great examples of 100% electric cars on the market today. If you’re considering buying one, take a look at our Electric Car Insurance and our guide to the five cheapest hybrid and electric cars to insure.

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