Australian road users are being encouraged to sound off on whether electric vehicles should play noises at low speeds.
Pedestrians and motorists have just four days to have their say on whether acoustic vehicle alerting systems should be mandatory for electric and hybrid vehicles in Australia, as they are in countries including the US, UK and Japan.
When installed, the technology plays a sound as vehicles travel at speeds of up to 30km/h to alert bystanders, including those with vision impairments.
Public consultation on the technology was launched in March following calls from various groups in submissions to the National Electric Vehicle Strategy.
Assistant transport minister Carol Brown said more than 130 groups and individuals had weighed in on the issue so far, and she encouraged more pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to give their input.
“While EVs have obvious environmental benefits, we know they can be difficult for vulnerable road users and cyclists to hear, increasing the danger of collisions, serious injuries and fatalities,” she said.
“That’s why we are asking the community to share their views on the potential for mandating this life-saving alerting technology in Australia.”
A survey conducted by Monash University’s Accident Research Centre found 35 per cent of people with vision loss said they had experienced a collision or near-collision with an electric or hybrid vehicle, most of which occurred when crossing roads.
A cost-benefit analysis based on the study found introducing the technology in Australia could save 65 lives and avoid 5000 injuries over a 35-year period, according to the government’s consultation paper.
The benefit would be worth $321.5 million, the analysis found, compared to the $184 million cost of deploying the technology.
The consultation asks road users to give feedback on what vehicles should feature acoustic alerts, when they should be introduced and whether they should be added to heavy vehicles in the future.
Acoustic vehicle alerting systems were raised by Blind Citizens Australia in the National Electric Vehicle Strategy consultation, with the group warning Australia lagged much of the world on the issue.
It said the technology needed to be made mandatory to maximise the safety of blind or vision-impaired pedestrians.
Some electric vehicles in Australia already use acoustic alerting technology, including models from BYD and Hyundai, while others have it installed but not operational.
Public submissions into acoustic vehicle alerts close on May 26.
(Australian Associated Press)