The time has come. From this July 2021, all new electric cars sold in Europe, as well as hybrids and plug-in hybrids, must be equipped as standard with the so-called acoustic warning system AVAS, in order to alert pedestrians and other vulnerable users of its presence.
After a two-year moratorium to allow manufacturers to have this system available in their alternative mechanical models, this technology is now mandatory.
This change in the regulations is adopted to reduce accidents and accidents that have as a consequence the low noise level of this type of vehicle. And is that an electric drive hardly emits noise at low speed, which makes them potentially dangerous for pedestrians or cyclists.
Imitate the sound of a heat engine
These AVAS acoustic warning systems must be equipped with both zero emission cars (electric, extended range electric and hydrogen fuel cell) and conventional or plug-in hybrids.
In addition, they must meet a series of requirements as established by European regulations:
– Activate automatically from start up to a speed of 20 km / h , in addition to reverse gear, as long as only the electric motor operates.
– The sound must be higher than 56 decibels (equivalent to a conversation), but not exceed 75 decibels, as it is the maximum level set for cars equipped with heat engines.
– This sound must be continuous and similar to that emitted by a car with a heat engine , that is, imitate that of a gasoline or diesel car and with variations depending on the speed.
Likewise, this system cannot be disconnected, since it is expressly forbidden for drivers to temporarily turn off the warning. This is stated in Regulation No. 138 of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (CEPE), which modifies European Union Regulation 540/2014. Therefore, it does not have to be gilded from a switch as it had been contemplated at first.
In the case of hybrid cars , the AVAS does not have to activate between 0 and 20 km / h when the combustion engine is running. And in the same way you should not do the same when engaging the reverse gear in those cars that were previously equipped with a specific sound warning for this purpose.
There are already electric and alternative cars that have anticipated this regulatory change. For example the Jaguar I-PACE or the Volkswagen ID.3 and ID.4 to name a few examples.
It should be noted that the entry into force of this regulation is very good news in terms of safety, as it will help reduce deaths or injuries due to being run over, but not so much for the battle against noise pollution in cities.
For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a maximum limit for traffic noise of 53 decibels during the day and 45 decibels at night. Levels that exceed the values set from Europe for AVAS (between 56 and 75 decibels).
In fact, there are already European countries that are beginning to confront noise: in France noise radars have begun to be installed, as well as in the United Kingdom or Switzerland.
Prelude to the assistance systems that will be mandatory in 2022
There are several studies that support the obligation to equip these acoustic warning systems as they consider cars equipped with an electric motor as potentially dangerous for pedestrians or cyclists when they circulate at low speeds.
For example, as published by the DGT , a report from the ONCE indicates that the probability of being run over increased by 40% when these cars only operate with electrical mechanics. Also the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) concludes that in these cases these cars are 19% more likely to cause an accident.
Beyond emissions, reducing road accidents is among Europe’s priorities. Thus, from 2022 , all new cars sold in Europe will also be required to equip up to eight technologies, both for driving assistance and focused on safety.
Among the former are the automatic emergency braking , the rear cross traffic assistant (equipped with a camera and blind spot detector), the intelligent speed assistant (ISA) or the involuntary lane departure alert.