Nissan should be forced to make its electric cars noisier, a Tyneside MP will today say.
Labour’s Mary Glindon is to raise safety concerns in Parliament amid worries that the blind and others will find the silent cars a new threat.
The North Tyneside MP says she is a big supporter of Nissan and its 6,000-strong workforce, but wants the new cars produced at the Sunderland factory and elsewhere to be as safe as possible to pedestrians.
She decided to raise the issue with ministers after the Guide Dogs charity revealed that between 2010-2012 there were 237 hybrid electric cars involved in a collision which injured a pedestrian. In terms of the number of these vehicles on the road, this figure is 25% higher than expected, when compared to the car population as a whole.
Nissan already adds noise, but, Mrs Glindon said, the Government needs to act to ensure standards are good enough.
Now, as EU ministers consider regulations for artificial noise generators in quiet vehicles, Mrs Glindon has said the car companies must act.
She said: “The Government has pledged £800m in subsides for the ultra-low emissions market so the number of these cars on our roads will increase rapidly. If the Government is paying to promote these vehicles, they should first make sure that they are safe to pedestrians. We need to send a message that sound generators are vital for the safety of all pedestrians, including those who are visually impaired.”
Mrs Glindon added: “The development of green electric cars, not least those built in the North East, is great news indeed for consumers whose motoring costs are reduced and for the environment as well as conserving energy supplies.
“However, there is a downside. Elderly, blind and partially sighted people are at risk from electric cars because they rely on hearing sound to judge when it is safe to cross a road.”
A Nissan spokesman said: “Although there are no regulations today that require automakers to have pedestrian-alert sounds on their cars, Nissan has taken the initiative to develop the Approaching Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians in response to public concern about the quietness of EVs and hybrids.
“In developing the alert, Nissan studied research on the behavior of the visually impaired and worked with cognitive and acoustic psychologists. Nissan worked to avoid a sound range that would add unnecessary noise to the environment.”