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The debate around electric car safety has therefore been placed in stark review in recent months; most notably around the relative silence of electric cars compared to their combustion engined counterparts. 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.
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 safety
The law has now changed regarding the production of electric cars and their noise levels at low speed in response to this shocking figure.
As of July 1st 2019, legislation was introduced that ensured all new EVs, hybrids and PHEVs emit audible sounds when traveling below 12mph. This Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS) will alert 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 or braking.
This new law will increase the confidence of more vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists and is particularly important for those who are visually impaired.
While we are all accustom 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 that will be more difficult to detect due to their near silent running.
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 chassis from the high voltage system to prevent electric shock
- Lowering the centre of gravity to reduce the likelihood of rolling the car
- 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 fueled vehicles. They are also assessed by the safety rating providers NCAP. So, if you want to check the safety ratings of your car (whether electric or not) visit their website.