A majority of UK drivers believe electric cars could be "a silent danger" without an ambient noise system to emulate engine noise, according to a recent poll conducted by Be Wiser Insurance.
Over half (54%) of respondents believe that electric cars pose a threat to pedestrians and other road users if they're left in their default "silent" state.
While some noise is made by the tyres rolling with resistance on the tarmac, it's not necessarily this noise which pedestrians associate with a car coming around the bend.
Mark Bower-Dyke, Chairman of Be Wiser Insurance, comments:
"We all rely on our hearing more than we think - especially on foot. Whether you believe electric cars are the future or not, cars are going to become increasingly quieter - and this may become a safety issue. The obvious answer is to fit silent cars with ambient noise-making devices so that pedestrians and motorists can continue to use the roads as they currently do."
Just under a third (28%) of respondents suggested people should take responsibility for their own safety - some saying that pedestrians and road users would soon find other ways of coping without hearing cars on the road.
Nearly a fifth (18%) argued that the roads are noisy enough as they are, without ambient noise systems on cars.
Mark Bower-Dyke continues:
"It's inevitable that society will adapt to the noise, or lack of noise, modern cars will make. Considering a safety measure, which could be turned off in the future, for the interim isn't such a bad idea. Road noise is a real issue for some, especially when their home would be quiet if it wasn't for engine noise from a nearby busy road - even worse is when their home predates the increased traffic on the road."
Many commented that they would like to be able to choose the noise their car emitted - some suggesting ice-cream van music or chitty-chitty-bang-bang!
Mark Bower-Dyke concludes:
"These noises might be more effectively heard, in the short term at least! But when you've heard 'Greensleeves' for the thousandth time most of us would flick the switch to go back to the boring hum of the engine!"