Making some noise for safer vehicles

Pedestrians will soon be safer around quiet cars, trucks and buses travelling at low speeds with the Albanese Government introducing a new design rule to make electric vehicles safer.

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.

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.

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Quotes attributable to Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King:

“This is another example of our 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

“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.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth:

In our efforts to transition to a cleaner, greener future, it’s important that we continue to prioritise our commitment to building an inclusive society. 

“Today’s announcement is another example of the Albanese Government listening, including and responding to all sectors of society in our decision-making. 

“It’s also another example of how making a reasonable adjustment for people with disabilities can actually make life better for everyone. 

Quotes attributable to Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme Bill Shorten:

“It’s great that the blind and low vision communities’ concerns have been taken into account to create the Australian Design Rule meaning new electric vehicles will be fitted with an AVAS from November next year”.

“This new Design Rule will ultimately improve road safety for everyone on our roads.”

Quotes attributable to Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Carol Brown:

“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.”

“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.”

Quotes attributable to Manager of Government Relations and Advocacy for Vision Australia Chris Edwards: 

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

“We are ecstatic and congratulate the current federal government for listening to our concerns and acting on this very important issue as 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.”