Electric vehicles were once a common sight on Britain’s urban roads. Their silent approach, which could catch both pedestrians and cyclists unaware, earned them the nickname ‘Whispering Death’.
Now over 40 years since the last electric trolley-buses were replaced by diesel buses on British streets, a new report has called out the rapidly growing number of electric and hybrid cars for their safety record. The Guide Dogs charity report shows that pedestrians are a remarkable 40 percent more likely to be run over by one of the new silent vehicles, compared to a conventional petrol or diesel car.
The Guide Dogs charity found the number of collisions with hybrid and electric cars with pedestrians had increased by over half in just one year to 2013. They pointed to research which found three quarters of the public said quiet vehicles made the roads less safe for the sight impaired, children, and the elderly.
James White, Campaigns Manager for Guide Dogs, said: “Quiet vehicles put pedestrians at risk outside schools, in residential areas and in our towns and cities. The Government is spending hundreds of millions of pounds to increase the numbers of quiet cars on the roads, and while we support the development of environmentally friendly vehicles, more needs to be done to protect pedestrian safety.”
The charity is calling for all quiet vehicles to be fitted with artificial sound-makers. While European Union legislation will force this by 2021, the charity wants Britain to take the lead in this area and to introduce them early to save lives.