Tesla Model Y
Sarah Hunt

Sarah Hunt

Sarah is the Head of Marketing and she's tasked with keeping the fantastic marketing team in line. She's probably the reason you've heard of us, and her wealth of marketing experience means that no challenge is too big.

Read time of 3 minutes.

We discuss electric car safety and legislation around compulsory electric car noise.

In 2023 so far, 286,846 electric cars (EVs) have been purchased and registered in the UK. This is a 31% increase from 2022, which saw 224,919 cars registered, demonstrating how popular EVs are becoming.

And with the 2035 ban on new petrol and diesel cars looming, it’s inevitable that the number of EVs on our roads in years to come will increase by plenty. 

By 2030, the national grid estimates there will be as many as 11 million electric vehicles on the road, with this to increase to 36 million by 2040.

There’s always been a big debate around electric car safety, most notably around the relative silence of electric cars compared to their combustion engine counterparts. 

BMW i4

Why are electric cars quieter?

Electric vehicles are famously quiet because they don’t have an engine. 

Instead, they have a motor system that is powered by an electric battery. 

EVs don’t have the mechanical features of an internal combustion engine as they have fewer moving parts, which is why you’ll only hear a very quiet hum when an EV moves.

Will road noise reduce with electric cars?

There are many attractive realities made possible by a near silent car. 

This is true not only for the driver and their passengers who can enjoy a more tranquil driving experience but also to all those nearby due to the general reduction in noise pollution.

As EVs become more popular, there will be less petrol and diesel cars on the road, which will reduce noise pollution even further. 

However, the downside is made very clear by the statistic that an electric or hybrid car is 40% more likely to hit a pedestrian in the UK than a petrol or diesel car.

Legislation on electric car noise safety

The law has now changed regarding the production of electric cars and their noise levels at low speed in response to the shocking statistic above. 

On July 1st 2019, legislation was introduced that ensured all new types of ‘quiet’ EVs and hybrids were fitted with a system to emit audible sounds when traveling below 12mph. 

This Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS) sounds similar to a conventional engine and alerts pedestrians and other road users of the vehicle’s presence. 

While the noise itself is at the discretion of manufacturers, there are clear regulations on frequency levels (between 56 and 76 decibels) and must “be easily indicative of vehicle behaviour” to indicate whether the car is accelerating, braking or reversing.

This new law hoped to increase the confidence of more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists and is particularly important for those who are visually impaired.

As of 1st July 2021, it’s obligatory for the AVAS to be installed in all brand-new electric vehicles by manufacturers. 

While we are all accustomed to living with the dangers of combustion cars, many of these risks are identified by audible cues. 

We must therefore move away from this instinct and remain vigilant of the fact that there are currently electric cars on the road. 

And even though they’re required to make noise now, they’re still much quieter than their ICE counterparts and they’re still more difficult for many people to detect.


Other electric car safety concerns

The quietness of electric cars hasn’t been the only safety concern for electric car buyers. 

The lack of flammable fuel is a definite point in their favour. However, manufacturers have had to work hard to reassure buyers that an electric car is safe in a collision. 

Steps taken by manufacturers to ensure this is the case are:

  • Isolating the car’s chassis from the electrical system to prevent electric shocks.
  • Lowering the car’s centre of gravity to reduce the likelihood of it tipping over and rolling.
  • Preventing chemical spillage from batteries in the event of a collision.
  • Ensuring batteries are secure even on impact.

Electric cars are subject to the same rigorous safety testing procedures as conventionally fuelled vehicles and are actually some of the safest cars around today. 

They are also assessed by the safety rating providers Euro NCAP. So, if you want to check the safety ratings of your car (whether electric or not) visit their website.

Electric cars with five-star safety ratings include the Tesla Model Y, BYD ATTO 3, and Mercedes EQC

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