Vision Australia is calling for the Australian Government to mandate acoustic vehicle alerting systems (AVAS) for electric vehicles.
The organisation has been campaigning for the mandating of audible alerts since 2018.
It has now signed a draft Regulation Impact Statement calling on the Australian Government to introduce an Australian Design Rule (ADR) for these systems.
Electric vehicles can pose a threat to blind or low-vision pedestrians who rely on sound to navigate roads independently and safely.
A study by Vision Australia and the Monash University Accident Research Centre found that more one in three blind or low-vision participants said they have either been involved in an accident or a near-collision with an electric vehicle due to the lack of noise.
An international regulation has been developed for this feature, United Nations Regulation 138/01 (UN R138/01), which specifies an audible alert for both light and heavy electric vehicles travelling at speeds of up to 20km/h.
The Australian Government is seeking feedback on the introduction of an ADR mandating this feature for new light EVs locally, though it says there’s insufficient data available to fully assess the case for mandating AVAS for heavy vehicles.
It is, however, interested in information on costs, benefits and feasibility of mandating AVAS for heavy EVs in the future.
“Vision Australia is grateful that the incumbent Federal Government has listened to our recommendation and is acting in the interest of all road users,” said Chris Edwards, Vision Australia’s manager of government relations and advocacy, the NDIS and aged care.
“With electric vehicles predicted to make up 90 per cent of Australia’s vehicle fleet by 2050, this outcome is significant for everyone, especially as we understand that pedestrian road crashes cost the Australian community over $1.2 billion each year. But – the personal cost is immeasurable.”
Most major vehicle markets including Europe and the United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, China and the United States already require acoustic vehicle alerting systems in electric vehicles.
In 2019 Europe, Korea, United States and China mandated the feature, and Japan followed suit in 2020.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US is currently considering a petition calling for 9.1 million EVs built prior to the mandate in 2019 to be retrofitted with the technology.