Visually impaired association for better perceptible e-car noise

Status: 04/30/2023 4:29 p.m

Especially at low speeds, electric cars are barely audible – this is dangerous for people with visual impairments. The German Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired is now calling for the Avas warning system to be improved.

The German Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired calls for better recognizable vehicle noises in e-cars. “With a combustion engine, you can hear how hard someone is stepping on the gas, whether a vehicle is accelerating gently or vigorously,” said President Hans-Werner Lange of the dpa news agency.

With the Avas system with artificial driving noises for e-cars, you can’t hear that so well. So it needs to be more meaningful. “It would certainly be helpful if the industry based itself on the usual combustion engine noise.” It is also important that the noise should not switch off when the vehicle reaches a speed of 20.

The Avas (Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System) warning system has been mandatory since 2021, as the Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) explains. In order to support people with limited visual perception when driving in traffic, it generates an artificial driving noise – because otherwise e-cars could be almost silent, especially at low speeds.

According to the VDA, a study by insurers’ accident research has shown that e-cars, even with Avas, are judged to be slower than they are when accelerating. “That can lead to wrong decisions when it comes to the question of whether a street can still be crossed safely. And that is of course associated with great danger.”

Focus: Recognizing acceleration

The VDA explained that internationally, with the participation of worldwide associations for the blind and visually impaired, agreement had been reached on a uniform provision for the audibility of low-noise vehicles. Manufacturers would have the opportunity to design the acoustic signals technically freely within this specification. “In some cases, noises from combustion engines are also imitated,” said the spokesman.

In a study presented in 2022, the insurers’ accident research recommended optimizing the Avas specifications. Among other things, the focus should be on recognizing accelerations. It was also recommended to extend the range of use of the system to speeds of over 20 kilometers per hour.

Referring to the study, the President of the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Lange, said that the tire noise from reaching 20 km/h is not enough to hear well whether and how a car is accelerating.

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