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Electric and hybrid cars: new rules on noise emitting to protect vulnerable road users

Electric and hybrid cars: new rules on noise emitting to protect vulnerable road users
Published on: 03/07/2019
Electric and hybrid cars are much quieter on the road than the cars with a combustion engine. Although this is beneficial to the environment, it can also result dangerous to road users, especially to visually impaired people or cyclists, since they may not hear the cars approaching, being present or departing.

To aid this problem, a new Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/1576 mandates that all new types of electric and hybrid cars to be fitted with a new safety device as from 1 July 2019, the acoustic vehicle alerting system (AVAS).

The device will automatically generate a sound from the start of the car up to the speed of approximately 20 km/h, and during reversing. The sound-emitting device will be obligatory in all new e-cars as of 1 July 2021.

The same regulation provides for all necessary technical and administrative requirements concerning the type approval of hybrid electric and pure electric vehicles with regard to the sound they emit. AVAS requirements in the EU legislation are in accordance with the work developed at UNECE with the active participation of the European Commission.

In recent years, the EU has introduced a range of mandatory measures, which contributed to a reduction of fatal traffic casualties. These measures include electronic stability control systems on all vehicles, as well as advanced emergency braking systems and lane departure warning systems on trucks and buses.

In 2017, the Commission launched a public consultation to gather stakeholder views on potential improvements to current vehicle safety measures. In May 2018, the Commission then proposed a review of the general safety regulation and the pedestrian safety regulation, under the Third “Europe on the Move” set of actions. The revised General Safety Regulation goes hand in hand with an efficient safety management of road infrastructure, where the Commission's proposal was agreed in March 2019.

The Commission also presented a Communication on connected and automated mobility to make Europe a world leader for autonomous and safe mobility systems. As a first deliverable for connected mobility the Commission had adopted new rules that step up the deployment of Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) on Europe's roads. C-ITS allow vehicles to ‘talk' to each other, to the road infrastructure, and to other road users – for instance about dangerous situations, road works and the timing of traffic lights, making road transport safer, cleaner and more efficient.