Graham Watson MEP

Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for South West England and Gibraltar

A local champion with an international reputation

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MEPs want silent cars to make some noise

MEPs today voted in favour of introducing mandatory acoustic vehicle alerting systems (AVAS) in quiet vehicles such as electric and hybrid cars to protect vulnerable road users.

Road safety groups and organisations for partially sighted and blind people such as Guide Dogs had called for these acoustic warning devices in order to avoid an increased accident risk for vulnerable road users.

Graham Watson, Lib Dem MEP for the South West, voted in favour of the move at the European Parliament after learning about the risks to road users after speaking to representatives from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association.

"Quiet cars are to be welcomed, but not if they are so quiet that safety is put at risk."

"The sound of a braking car can provide a signal to a blind or partially sighted person that it is safe to cross, but if this is too quiet on an electric car, AVAS can solve this problem by providing a warning."

"Silent vehicles are not only an issue for blind and partially sighted people but also for children, cyclists and other vulnerable road users. That's why Liberal Democrats voted in favour of mandatory acoustic warning devices in silent cars today."


Note to editors:

Research from the United States indicates that very quiet vehicles are twice as likely to be involved in a pedestrian accident as vehicles fitted with an internal combustion engine - most typically when the vehicle is slowing or stopping, moving in reverse or entering or exiting a parking space.

Liberal Democrat MEPs Chris Davies and Fiona Hall proposed the following amendment to the report calling for a regulation on Sound Level of Motor Vehicles on behalf of the Liberal ALDE Group in the European Parliament:

"Manufacturers shall install AVAS in vehicles. The sound to be generated by the AVAS shall be a continuous sound that provides information to pedestrians and vulnerable road users of a vehicle in operation. The sound shall be easily indicative of vehicle behaviour and could sound similar to the sound of a vehicle of the same category equipped with an internal combustion engine, and operating under the same conditions, and the requirements of Annex IX shall be fulfilled.

"The Commission shall, within one year of the entry into force of this Regulation, assess the need to review this Regulation, taking into account, inter alia, whether active safety systems can better serve the objective of improving the safety of vulnerable road users in urban areas, in addition to, or as compared to acoustic vehicle alerting systems and shall, where appropriate, and in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, submit to the European Parliament and Council a proposal which makes provision for a maximum sound level for AVAS installed in vehicles."