A new rule from the Albanese Government will require electric, hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles to be louder in a bid to reduce pedestrian fatalities.

    The new Australian Design Rule (ADR) will require all new electric, hybrid and hydrogen cars, trucks and buses launched after November 1, 2025 to be fitted with an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS).

    It’ll be required for all vehicles of these types on sale in Australia from November 1, 2026.

    Already common among these vehicles, an AVAS emits a noise from the vehicle while it’s travelling at low speeds, making it harder for a pedestrian to miss when, for example, it’s driving through a carpark.

    The Australian Government says a vehicle fitted with an AVAS, however, won’t be any noisier than a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle.

    It says the new ADR is expected to help avoid around 68 fatalities, 2675 serious injuries and 2962 minor injuries by 2060, and is estimated to save the Australian community $208 million.

    The planned rule comes after the Government consulted on a draft Impact Analysis proposing such a mandate, which found support from state and territory governments, the blind community, and carmakers.

    ADR 113/00 – Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems for Quiet Road Transport Vehicles will require an AVAS system to be operational at speeds of up to 20km/h, with no pause function permitted.

    The maximum sound level, when travelling forward, mustn’t exceed 75 dBA; the dBA unit of measurement refers to the relative loudness of sounds as perceived by the human ear.

    According to Yale University, a normal conversation is around 60-70 dBA, while a vacuum cleaner is 75 dBA.

    “As more and more Australians choose to drive EVs we are committed to ensuring that they are safe for both driver and others using the road,” said Catherine King, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.

    “This is a significant win for those the blind and low-vision community who have long been advocating for alert systems like this to be introduced in Australia.”

    The announcement was celebrated by Vision Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that supports people with blindness and low vision.

    “Vision Australia has been calling for AVAS to be introduced in Australia since 2018,” said Chris Edwards, Vision Australia’s manager of government relations and advocacy.

    “We are ecstatic and congratulate the current federal government for listening to our concerns and acting on this very important issue as pedestrians who are blind or have low vision will be able to navigate public spaces with more confidence.

    “All pedestrians should have the right to feel safe and confident when navigating public spaces and today’s announcement is a significant step towards protecting that for people who are blind or have low vision. There is no doubt that this is an announcement that will save lives.”

    The United Nations has already introduced a regulation regarding audibility of “quiet road transport vehicles”, while the United States and European Union also have regulations mandating minimum sound requirements for hybrid and electric vehicles.

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

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