Today I want to talk about a new law which is currently in effect. The law states that all new electric and hybrid vehicles must emit a sound when trailing under 12mph. This law has been put in place after a campaign by disability groups who are concerned about the welfare of Visually Impaired and Blind pedestrians.
(The photo on the left is a busy junction in the centre of London. There is a red brick building, in front of the building is a pavement, in front of that there is the road. The road is a busy junction with a yellow box. A silver car is coming past with cyclist in yellow vests also coming into the yellow box)
This law is a step in the right direction for vulnerable pedestrians like myself. There have been a number of times when I have been out on my own, or with others and I have stepped out into the road when a car has been coming.
I am a visually impaired person with very little concept of my own surroundings. I have nearly stepped out in front of buses, vans and cars. I can’t see very well and use a guide cane to get around. I will always look, look then look again, then step out. I have something called Cerebral Visual Impairment which means my brain does not process properly what my eyes are looking at. Meaning I will not always see what my eyes are seeing. I will write a post about my eye condition in the future. It is not a very well known condition, it is called Cerebral Visual Impairment, but if you would like to learn more please look at the CVI society for more info. Or contact the RNIB.
To give you a bit of an idea of how underrepresented my impairment is: I could only go to one hospital in the whole country to get an appointment to be tested.
A general idea of Cerebral Visual Impairment, if I gave you a piece of Latin to read and you didn’t read Latin,you would be able to say the words, but not understand what the words meant. You would be stuck. That’s what life is like for me.
I might be able to see something using my ‘good eye’, but my brain cannot interpret what it means, or even that’s it’s there. Scary.
So imagine crossing a road with all these quiet vehicles not buzzing around. I step out, and that’s it. We all know how that would end. Not well.
We live in a very visual world, it must be wonderful when you can see it, but when you can’t, it is scary. When you can’t interpret it, it is scary. Those soundless cars are an absolute nightmare. I really rely on my hearing when out and about. But even then, my brain can cut out the noise when I am overwhelmed. Which makes it difficult. I might not cut it out as in stop listening. I just can’t process what I am hearing. It is just one mass of sound. So when crossing roads I really have to concentrate. It is hard enough as it is.
(This image shows two red London buses on the side of the road, and a black car, with a black taxi just behind it. There is also a red scooter just behind the black taxi. Then the other side of the road. With a black bollard- not sure if there is a cycle lane)
This new law could ensure road safety for people like me. But there is a problem. The driver can, if they deem necessary, turn off the feature which allows the car to emit sound. What is ‘deemed necessary?’ I am curious what the guidelines are.
I don’t mean to rain on this parade, the work done by disability rights groups and charities has been amazing and I am very thankful. I love that people have got behind the campaign, written to their MPs and raised their voices to get this through parliament. As a vulnerable pedestrian I am grateful this issue has been raised, and now car manufacturers have to ensure their electric vehicles emit a sound so people can hear them. I feel safer knowing that this is now a law within our country.
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In no way am I affiliated to any of the charities I have mentioned in this post, however I want to let you know they are out there, doing amazing work. For which I am very grateful.