Thursday 20 May 2010

The Good Garage Scheme asks: are electric cars a danger to pedestrians?

The growing popularity of the electric car may be beneficial for the environment, but their near-silent operation means the vehicles may also be a dangerous threat to pedestrians.

This week Nissan announced that its all-electric car, the Leaf, will be available to the UK from February 2011 and is set to cost £23,350. The zero-emission family car offers the same practicality and performance of a similar car in its class, including a top speed of 90 miles per hour and the ability to be rapid-charged to 80 percent of its battery capacity in 30 minutes.

Despite the positive move towards eco-friendly driving, the practically noiseless cars could be dangerous to pedestrians, who might unwittingly step out in front of one. The blind or visually impaired, children and the elderly may fail to notice oncoming electric vehicles without any noise, and this has prompted a move to install a feature on electric vehicles to make them more audible. It is thought that the sounds will be different from the standard noise an engine tends to make, such as sound effects or music.

Nissan has said it may equip the Nissan Leaf with a sound system in time for the car’s introduction next year as fears over pedestrian safety increase. The Good Garage Scheme advises that pedestrians follow good road safety practices, including “Stop, look and listen” and keep looking whilst you are crossing the road.

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