Acoustic vehicle alerting systems (AVAS) for electric and hybrid vehicles has been considered by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the European Union (EU) and by vehicle manufacturers. In October 2016, UNECE's World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations, which is an intergovernmental platform responsible for regulating for the safety of vehicles, adopted Regulation No. 138 - "Uniform provisions concerning the approval of Quiet Road Transport Vehicles with regards to their reduced audibility (QRTV)".
This regulation applies to cars and vans (vehicle categories M1 and N1) that can travel in normal mode, reverse or in at least one forward gear without the use of an internal combustion engine. It requires such vehicles to be fitted with an audible device that emits a warning sound while the vehicle is moving between 0-20km/h before being permitted on the market anywhere in the EU.
The EU has passed legislation to give this regulation legal effect, and since July 2019, all electric and hybrid models placed on the market in the EU are required to have an AVAS installed that will emit a noise when travelling at low speeds below 20 km per hour. The noise increases in pitch as the car’s speed decreases, which should help to alert pedestrians of oncoming vehicles. It is important to note that many manufacturers had already opted to install this technology before the legislation came into effect for reasons of safety.
With regard to e-scooters, the intention is to legislate for e-scooters this year in accordance with the Programme for Government. This involves identifying and developing appropriate amendments to primary legislation across a range of complex areas. The work is to be carried out in such a way that it does not undermine the overall framework of road traffic law or road safety in general.
Until new legislation is in place the use of electric scooters, other than on private land with the permission of the landowner, will remain illegal.