Monday, 17 december 2018 | Redacción CEU
One of the defining features of electric cars is their lack of noise. Sometimes when we get into an electric taxi and it stops at a traffic light, we are not able to tell whether the car is on or not. Imagine for a moment that the most used vehicles were electric cars. It would be a pleasure for our ears, right? But what on the one hand could have a positive impact on our peace of mind and well-being, could also constitute a great risk to pedestrians. If we thought that the emergence of electric cars was going to bring silence to the streets, we were wrong. Electric cars will have to produce sound by law. Although noise could seem at first a trivial issue, it is key to today's road safety. Why cannot cars be noiseless? What does the new legislation on noise and electric vehicles consist of?
A few weeks ago, we mentioned in an article the nostalgia that the lovers of motorcycles can experience when driving electric motorbikes. These two-wheeled vehicles do not emit the same sound. Manufacturers are aware of the fact that this absence of noise can affect driver experience and work on the design of motorcycles that are able to please users and compensate them for their loss. Electric cars, whose use is more widespread than motorcycles, share that feature. They barely make any noise. Nonetheless, that could be just for a short time. In 2019, cars will have to emit some kind of noise to warn people of their presence on the road.
Sometimes noise is harmful, sometimes it is necessary
According to a report which was recently published by the World Health Organization (WHO), noise is one of the main risks for mental and physical health and for the well-being of people. In fact, excessive noise can end up causing cardiovascular problems, digestive disorders, stress, insomnia and loss of concentration. Most cars, buses, trucks and vehicles that are currently driving on the road make noise. Such is the level of noise that they emit that it can constitute an environmental problem. Traffic is an agent of noise pollution of greater importance than business and industrial activity.
The migration of people from the rural environment to the city has not helped reduce this effect. The density of traffic is increasing, and the level of noise is getting higher. With their emergence, electric cars promised to put an end to the problem and, to a large extent, they surely will do. But this does not mean that cars stop making noise, because, although it may seem contradictory, the noise in cars is in some cases harmful and in others necessary.
After carrying out many studies, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) came to the conclusion, that, at lower speeds, electric and hybrid cars have a greater risk of being involved in accidents in comparison to combustion cars. In particular, its analysis shows that accidents are 18% more likely to happen when drivers use these cars. Noise is key to warning pedestrians of the presence of vehicles. However, hybrid and electric cars barely make any noise when they are in motion. This factor can be decisive for an accident to occur, especially there is risk for people who have vision problems, cyclists and pedestrians who are distracted.