The low level of noise of new quiet vehicles presents a significant safety problem for people who are blind, deafblind or who have low vision.
The RNZFB Board believes that:
- All people have the right to cross roads at pedestrian crossings and negotiate carparks and other shared spaces without the hazards presented by quiet vehicles.
Hybrid and electric vehicles – referred to as “quiet vehicles” – offer numerous economic, environmental and social benefits. The low level of noise is beneficial from an environmental and social perspective, but presents a significant safety problem for people who are blind, deafblind or who have low vision.
People who are blind, deafblind or have low vision rely on environmental sound as an essential aid to independent mobility and safety when crossing roads and negotiating traffic.
Quiet vehicles will make this much more difficult, and in some cases, impossible. It is worth noting that the widespread introduction of quiet vehicles will have implications for the safety of everyone in the community.
What Blind Low Vision NZ will do:
- Contribute data and evidence about the impact of quiet vehicles on the ability of blind, deafblind and those with low vision to move around the community.
- Promote this policy to motor vehicle designers, manufacturers and importers.
What Blind Low Vision NZ Wants Government to Do:
- Conduct an enquiry into the impact of quiet vehicles on blind, deafblind and those with low vision including:
- The use of appropriate noise-making devices in quiet vehicles. The Blind Low Vision NZ preference is for the alert sound to mimic the noise of a motor vehicle, as it needs to be distinguished from other less threatening sources.
- The use of in-vehicle, audio-visual signalling systems that would alert drivers to the presence of nearby pedestrians.
- The use of mobility aids that would alert users who are blind, deafblind or have low vision to the presence of nearby traffic, and which could be used to signal such traffic to stop.
- Greater use of audio and/or tactile traffic signals and integration of vehicle signalling with other technically based road safety technologies, such as “blind radar”.
- Public education campaigns and mandatory driver training on the potential dangers of quiet vehicles for people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision.