On Saturday 29th June I continued my busy schedule as Transport Minister by launching a new Government initiative that very quiet electric and hybrid cars will now have to feature a noise emitting device when travelling at low speed to warn pedestrians of their presence.
There has long been a concern that electric cars, while undoubtedly beneficial to the environment, can be safety issues for pedestrians due to the little noise they emit meaning they cannot be heard on approach. This is a particular concern for people with visual impairment. Under this new law, hybrid and electric cars must have sound generators that automatically produce a specified noise level when running below 12mph. The sound generated will be similar to that of a conventional engine and will switch off automatically when the vehicle gets above 12mph.
This 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. It is my belief that this new requirement will give pedestrians added confidence when crossing the road, sentiments echoed by the Guide Dogs charity.