Blind people soon able to hear ‘silent’ cars

11.02.2013 - 14:51

The European Parliament adopted an amendment last week requiring car manufacturers to equip their ‘silent’ cars with an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS) as to avoid endangering people with sight loss that are not able to either see or hear such vehicles.

The European Blind Union (EBU) President Wolfgang Angermann welcomed the decision and stated: “Blind and partially sighted people have a right to be out in the streets. Silent cars are dangerous and minimum noise levels to ensure our safety is paramount. I am happy to see that the European Parliament has listened to us. Now we want Member States to do the same and endorse this all important requirement.”

Electric and hybrid, or so-called ‘silent’ cars are too quiet for all pedestrians to detect, but they pose a bigger problem to blind and partially sighted people. Those individuals are unable to hear or see the vehicle, a fact that might result in an accident. In particular, the crash rate of silent vehicles is twice as high as that of cars with internal combustion engine in slow-speed manoeuvre conditions such as slowing, stopping, backing up and entering a parking space. For these reasons, MEPs are promoting the use of AVAS in order to reduce such accidents.

The Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS) is an innovative warning system emitting a sound that is pleasant and perceptible to the human ear, while alerting pedestrians for the nearby presence of a ‘silent’ vehicle.

EBU is a non-governmental, non-profit European organization founded in 1984. It is one of the six regional bodies of the World Blind Union, protecting and promoting the interests of blind and partially sighted people in Europe.