This week I will get a chance to vote on an important piece of legislation that addresses the noise levels of hybrid and electric cars.
A number of Londoners have been writing to me asking me to support mandatory humming or fake engine noise in all such vehicles travelling at low speeds. There were a number of articles last year (you can read the piece from the Daily Telegraph here) that discussed the potential dangers of quiet vehicles to cyclists and pedestrians, particularly those with visual impairments.
All Labour MEPs are committed to finding a balance between reducing excessive traffic noise, and making sure that quieter electric vehicles emit enough sound to warn passers-by. The ability to hear a vehicle approach is an important road safety issue for vulnerable road users such as the blind, and my colleague Linda McAvan MEP has been working very closely with Guide Dogs UK to address these concerns.
The European Parliament Environment and Health Committee voted before Christmas to support a cross-party compromise proposal, which asks the European Commission to study whether manufacturers should be required to fit electric vehicles with an artificial sound device, and what kind – and then make a proposal within a year (you can read the proposal here). There is still scope to improve this compromise, and Linda McAvan is working to raise support for a more ambitious amendment when this legislation comes to the plenary vote in February. Ideally, Labour MEPs would like to see a more explicit call for sound devices to be made mandatory in electric vehicles. We also want to ensure that these sound devices are as effective as possible in warning pedestrians.