On 2 April 2014 the European Parliament adopted a new EU regulation that is of interest to blind and partially sighted people. This new EU regulation will introduce a new “Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System” (AVAS) for hybrid and pure electric vehicles, which will provide sound to signal the vehicle’s presence to pedestrians and other road users.
Car manufacturers will have to install the AVAS system in all new models of hybrid and pure electric vehicles by 1st July 2019 and in all existing models of hybrid and pure electric vehicles by 1st July 2021. RNIB welcomes the mandatory introduction of the new AVAS system for new cars, but regrets that it will not be fully in place until 2021.
The new regulation also stipulates that hybrid and pure electric cars will also have to be fitted with a switch which will enable drivers to turn the AVAS system off. RNIB does not welcome this.
We believe that requiring an easy means by which the driver can switch the AVAS system off will put blind and partially sighted people at risk, and that the regulation should not have made this requirement. For this reason, we urge the motor manufacturing industry to communicate the importance of AVAS clearly to drivers. When it becomes available, we urge drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles themselves to make use of the AVAS system, rather than switching it off, to help keep blind and partially sighted pedestrians safe.