The Federal Government has introduced a new design rule in order to, as it claims, make electric vehicles safer.

With pedestrians set to increasingly be around quieter battery electric cars, trucks and buses, the Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems (AVAS) is a safety alert or sound, emitted when an electric vehicle is travelling at low speeds in car parks, intersections, and driveways.

Quiet vehicles such as electric, hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles travelling at low speeds are harder for pedestrians to hear compared to noisier vehicles with conventional petrol or diesel engines.

This increases the risk of being involved in a collision, and this risk is greater for people who are blind or have poor vision who rely on sound to negotiate the road network independently.

The new Australian Design Rule (ADR) will require new electric, hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell cars, trucks and buses to be fitted with an AVAS from November 2025.

AVAS will make these vehicles easier to hear by emitting a sound when the vehicle is travelling at low speeds in car parks, intersections and driveways.

A vehicle fitted with an AVAS will not be any noisier than a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle.

“I’m thrilled the Albanese Labor Government is now mandating this vital safety technology to Australian vehicles, as part of our transition to low and zero emission vehicles,” said Carol Brown, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.

“AVAS technology is already mandated in the European Union, United Kingdom, Japan, Korea and the United States. This is our opportunity to catch up with the developed world.

“This technology will go a long way to preventing pedestrian crashes, especially for our most vulnerable.”

The Government consulted on a draft Impact Analysis proposing a mandate for AVAS for light vehicles and it was strongly supported by state and territory governments, the blind and low-vision community, and vehicle manufacturers.

The new ADR is expected to avoid around 68 fatalities, 2,675 serious injuries and 2,962 minor injuries by 2060 and is estimated it will save the Australian community $208 million.

Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King said it was another example of the Government’s commitment to road safety.

“As more and more Australians choose to drive EVs we are committed to ensuring that they are safe for both driver and others using the road,” she said.

“This is a significant win for those the blind and low-vision community who have long been advocating for alert systems like this to be introduced in Australia.”

Vision Australia has been calling for AVAS to be introduced in Australia since 2018.

Manager of Government Relations and Advocacy for Vision Australia Chris Edwards said pedestrians who are blind or have low vision will be able to navigate public spaces with more confidence.

“All pedestrians should have the right to feel safe and confident when navigating public spaces and today’s announcement is a significant step towards protecting that for people who are blind or have low vision. There is no doubt that this is an announcement that will save lives,” said Edwards.

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