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Electric vehicles: Department for Transport clarifies rule on sound generators

The Department for Transport (DfT) has said that sound generators required for all new electric vehicles will be prohibited from being paused by drivers – but not for another two years.

Image: A scenic view of Westminster bridge and the Houses of Parliament on a sunny day.

Since 1 July 2021, new electric vehicles registered in the UK are required to have a sound generator installed, known as an Audible Vehicle Alert System (AVAS). We previously highlighted the importance of this safety feature for blind and partially sighted pedestrians, along with remaining questions about how effective the new AVAS rules will be and how they’ll be enforced.

One of our big concerns was that drivers might be able to pause their AVAS, which would mean they have the ability to switch off the sound. For many blind and partially sighted people, an AVAS will be the only way they can detect an approaching electric vehicle: we cannot think of any reason to justify giving drivers the ability to pause this essential safety feature.

The DfT has now confirmed there’ll be a prohibition on a pause function for an electric vehicle’s AVAS, although this prohibition will only apply to new electric vehicles registered in the UK from 1 September 2023.

We welcome this prohibition and believe it will make the AVAS safety feature much more reliable. However, we’re disappointed we have to wait two years before it comes into effect and believes swifter implementation is both necessary and possible.