Electric Vehicles and Safety.
If like me, you have some degree of hearing loss you will understand my concern about EV’s.
Electric vehicles are taking the UK by storm with over 50,400 of them being sold in the first ten months of 2018. Incentivised by “Plug in Car” grants which saw buyers saving £4,500 and the governments’ subsequent investment of £440m to fund the installation infrastructure to charge them.
It is estimated that by 2020 there will be over one million electric vehicles on our roads with the distances they are capable of traveling on one charge varying between 100 -300 miles now they are becoming a more practical option.
Currently petrol and diesel cars make a noise that bounces off hard surfaces making them audible whereas EV’s emit white noise which is tonal, and supposed to indicate the direction they are approaching from.
This is all good and well for people with perfect hearing and sight but there are 9 million people, 1:7, living with some degree of hearing loss and 2 million have sight loss 1:30. It doesn’t take a genius or even a gerontologist (someone who studies elderly people) to realise that with an ageing population – this is only the tip of the iceburg. I have already had a close encounter with an EV approaching so silently I didn’t know it was there until the last moment, and I am not elderly and less mobile.
Studies have already shown that 93% of blind and partially sighted people struggle with electric vehicles.Many people with hearing loss wait a decade before seeking help, and often don’t receive the audiology referral needed. Electric cars are silent at any speed up to 12mph, currently not a good combination considering the above
However, I’m not the only person to have been concerned. It appears there are some action groups that have been voicing theirs and someone has listened. From July 2019, all-electric vehicles will have to emit an audible noise at slow speed. Hope is on the horizon, or 300 miles away depending on the range! With 40% of people over 50 and 71% of over 70’s having hearing loss, this is a big safety issue that really does have to be addressed properly.
This noise is all good and well, but will it be loud enough for people to hear? This is not an issue which is unique to our older folk, there are an estimated 50,000 children with hearing loss. This is a long-term problem not only limited to our elderly. What on earth are our roads going to sound like at rush hour and school run times? A swarm of bees? An invasion of drones? Time will tell. Until then be safe and be seen, especially during the dark evenings. You might not be able to hear them coming but if they can see you it helps.
9 million EV’s are predicted to be on the roads by 2030. Something needs to happen. Prevention is better than Hospitalisation.
(Another Devon Life Article from me)