Public consultation open on life-saving alerting technology for electric vehicles

More Australians than ever before are driving electric vehicles, with the numbers almost doubling in 2022, from 44,000 EVs on our roads, to more than 83,000.

As the popularity of electric vehicles grows, we are committed to ensuring they are safe for both the driver and all other road users.

Consultation is now open on the potential mandate of life-saving acoustic vehicle alerting systems (AVAS) for light electric vehicles (EVs) in Australia.

This technology allows EVs to produce an external sound, alerting vulnerable road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, to their approach - thereby decreasing the risk of a collision.

This is particularly important for the blind and low-vision community, whose members rely on sound to negotiate the road network independently.

A survey by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) found that people in this community felt particularly vulnerable on roads due to EVs, with 35 per cent reporting they had experienced a collision or near-collision with an EV.

This technology is already mandated across most major vehicle markets, including the European Union, United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, China and the United States.

A cost-benefit analysis for mandating AVAS in light EVs in Australia, supported by independent analysis by MUARC and advice from manufacturers, indicates that 65 lives could be saved and 5,000 injuries avoided over a 35-year period.  

As this analysis only covers pedestrian trauma, the benefits for Australian communities will likely be far greater – given AVAS technology will also reduce the risk of crashes involving other road users, particularly cyclists.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts has released an Impact Analysis consultation paper to seek the public’s views on this technology, the costs and benefits, as well as its implementation. 

While all submissions are welcome, feedback is being specifically sought on areas including:

  1. Support for the proposed introduction of AVAS for new light EVs
  2. The cost-benefit analysis, including the assumptions on effectiveness of the technology
  3. Concerns on functional and performance requirements, test requirements, or implementation
  4. Applicable vehicle categories, implementation timeframes, and alternative standards
  5. The feasibility of mandating AVAS for heavy vehicles in the future

Consultation on the AVAS Impact Analysis paper is open until Friday, 26 May 2023.

To view the paper or to make a submission, please visit: Have your say | Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth

“Electric vehicles are part of our vision for the future of road transport and a clean energy future

“People with low or no vision or hearing impairment have been advocating for electric vehicles to have alert systems to warn of their approach for a long time and I’m pleased our Government is taking action. 

“The United States, Japan and the European Union have all made this change. This consultation will decide whether this is the right change for Australia too.”

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

“This consultation comes as we continue to shape our National Electric Vehicle Strategy, ensuring Australians can access world-class transport technologies as we support growing the supply and take-up of EVs.

“Any potential reform in this space is a small but important step as we transition towards a cleaner, greener future on our roads.”

Quotes Attributable to the Minister for the NDIS and Government Services, Bill Shorten: 

“Including the right safety features for EVs will enable those who are blind or vision impaired to move around our community with confidence.

What is equally important is involving people with disability in what those features should be. If it works better for them, it will work better for us all.”

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

“Every year, more than 160 pedestrians die and thousands more are injured on Australian roads ON AVERAGE.

“That’s why we are consulting on challenges faced by vulnerable road users including pedestrians and cyclists in hearing EVs, how this increases the risk of collisions, and the potential for mandating this life-saving alerting technology in Australia.

“The Australian Government has a strong history of taking action to improve road safety, and making the most of new and advanced technologies by setting national vehicle standards is one of the ways we do that.

“It’s time Australia takes action on this issue and considers what this technology can mean for us and for vulnerable road user safety.”