Vision Australia letter to Hon Michael McCormack MP on electric vehicles

03 May 2019

Vision Australia has again written to Minister for Infrastructure,Transport and Regional Development Hon Michael McCormack MP to ask if minimum sound requirements for electric vehicles are a government priority.

Vision Australia letter to Hon Michael McCormack MP on minimum sound requirements for electric vehicles

30 April 2019

Dear Hon Michael McCormack MP

I write to you for the third occasion to ascertain your intentions to introduce an Australian Design Rule (ADR) for an Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System (AVAS) on hybrid and electric vehicles when travelling at low speed.

Specifically, we are asking you to respond to Senator Barry O’Sullivan’s request that this ADR is confirmed to be reviewed at the Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting on 28 June.

As you know, 35 percent of pedestrians who are blind or have low vision have experienced either a collision or near-collision with electric/hybrid vehicles. This is significant considering electric vehicles comprise of only 0.2 percent of the vehicle fleet in Australia. Yet this will drastically change in coming years with recently available projections estimating that quiet road transport vehicles will make up 90% of the vehicle fleet by 2050. Therefore the number of people injured or killed due to being struck as they are unable to detect them will grow.

Despite being well aware of the predicted demand of electric vehicles and the safety concerns, on 12 April 2019, The Australian newspaper announced your decision to neglect the safety concerns of all road users groups, most notably overlooking calls from individuals who are blind or have low vision who urgently seek your commitment to ensure electric vehicles are fitted with a sound requirement. Despite strong evidence to amend the national road safety strategy to introduce this ADR, we remain deeply concerned that you have provided no reassurance to Vision Australia and the broader community that this matter is under urgent review.

Vision Australia is the largest provider of services to people who are blind or have low vision. With over 156,000 clients and supporters, the community respect us as the nation’s leading expert in our field.  As everyone is a pedestrian at some point in their life, the change we seek has broad appeal. As we head into the Federal Election, our stakeholders are being notified of how the major parties are prioritising the safety of pedestrians including people who are blind or have low vision. We are pleased the Australian Labor Party has publicised their encouraging position on this matter if elected.  

It is vital the Australian Government promptly escalates this issue as an important Government road safety priority by ensuring this ADR is placed on the agenda and reviewed at the upcoming Transport and Infrastructure Council meeting on 28 June.

We would welcome discussions with you. 

Yours faithfully,

Ron Hooton

Chief Executive Officer

Vision Australia