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Government stalls on quiet vehicle safety

31 Oct 2013

From left, are: Support Worker, Jan Welsman, Senior Campaigns Officer, Jennifer Keen, Policy Business Partner, John Welsman, Campaigns Manager, James White, Campaigns Officer, Rachael Smith, Public Affairs Officer, Ashleigh Milson, and in front is John's guide dog Breck. All are stood in front of the doors to Westminster Hall.MPs from across the political spectrum attended a debate yesterday to discuss the dangers of quiet hybrid and electric vehicles and the need for them to be fitted with audible sound generators to ensure road user safety.

MPs recognised the wide range of groups who were put at risk by quiet vehicles – including children, the elderly and disabled groups. Much was made of Guide Dogs’ recent research indicating that electric and hybrid cars are 25% more likely to be involved in a collision resulting in injury to a pedestrian compared to conventional vehicles*.

The Government was criticised for a failure to make its position clear and accused of dragging its feet, waiting for more accidents to happen before taking action.

Shadow Transport Minister Richard Burden, commented on the ‘absolute unanimity’ of the MPs present, a rare occurrence in Parliament.

However, the Government refused to accept the evidence presented to them with Minister Robert Goodwill declining to commit the Government to act on the concerns of blind and partially sighted people, extolling quietness as a virtue rather than a road safety concern, stating “quieter vehicles have the potential to transform our towns and cities”.

Guide Dogs remain deeply concerned that the Government isn’t acting quickly enough and will continue to campaign for all new quiet vehicles to be fitted with audible sound generators. Supporters can take action to help get the message across by contacting decision-makers before the 5 November when the issue will be discussed in the EU.

* Research conducted by The TAS Partnership.


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