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Vision Australia welcomes the federal government’s announcement that plans are underway to mandate a minimum sound requirement in electric and hybrid vehicles in Australia.  

The news comes after Vision Australia and Monash University’s research report confirmed that 35 per cent of people who are blind or have low vision surveyed had either a collision or near-collision with an electric or hybrid vehicle.

Since October 2018, Vision Australia has been advocating to government for an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS) to be fitted into hybrid and electric vehicles. The AVAS would require an electric or hybrid vehicle to make a noise when travelling up to and including 20km/h, while travelling forward or in reverse.

This would bring Australia in-line with the United States and European Union, who have mandated similar requirements.

“The government has listened to our recommendation and is acting in the interest of all road users,” Chris Edwards, Vision Australia Manager of Government Relations and Advocacy said.

“With electric vehicles predicated to make up 90 per cent of the entire Australian vehicle fleet by 2050, this outcome is significant for all pedestrians, especially people who are blind or have low vision who rely more heavily on other sensory systems such as hearing and touch,” Chris said.

The Government is currently developing a Regulation Impact Statement for the proposal of making AVAS mandatory in Australia  Any recommendations made will then be put out for a period of consultation before the final decision is made  by the government whether to enact them.

“The decision makers we presented the issue to needed no convincing about why this important safety feature needed to be fitted into electric vehicles. This isn’t going to be an overnight fix, nevertheless we’re pleased significant steps are being taken address what is a serious safety issue for all pedestrians, not just those who are blind or have low vision,” Chris said.  

Thank you to the participants who contributed to the research, Monash University Accident Research Centre and to the many politicians including Senator Alex Gallacher, Senator Barry and Senator Glenn Sterle who kept this issue in the political debate.  

Excerpt: The Hon Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister/Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development 

“However, I appreciate that AVAS is not yet mandatory in Australia. Upon receiving your report, I sought advice from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development on taking this important issue forward. I understand that the Department has discussed the plans regarding UN Regulation 138 (which sets out AVAS requirements) with Vision Australia and is now in the initial stages of preparing a Regulation Impact Statement.”  

Click here to read the full research report.