Blind Telford charity worker warns of 'silent killers' after being hit by electric car
A blind charity worker from Telford is warning about the dangers of low-noise electric cars after he was hit by a “deadly silent killer” on his way to work.
Joshua Feehan has been trained by specialists to remember his day-to-day walking routes, but said there was no such training that could have prevented him being struck while crossing the road in Birmingham.
The 30 year old from Hadley was on his way to work at the Thomas Pocklington Trust and had taken a few steps before he was hit by a near-silent electric car and rolled over the bonnet.
“I’ve been crossing that road for the last five years. I’d got used to it but now I’m apprehensive about crossing it again,” he said.
Joshua had 20/20 vision until the age of 15, when his sight dramatically deteriorated over the course of just one week, leaving him registered blind.
“I’ve only got peripheral vision,” he said. “So I looked both ways and couldn’t see or hear anything coming and I’ve walked out.
“I just couldn’t hear it. It’s a huge issue because quite frankly, you can hear a bus and you can hear a petrol or diesel car coming past even at low speed.
“But you’ve got absolutely no chance with an electric vehicle until it’s right next to you – I’d say they’re deadly silent killers.”
Joshua added that future electric car models are set to be fitted with Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems (AVAS) but that the thousands of cars already on the road will not have them retrospectively fitted.
He added: “I completely agree electric cars need to be brought in for the environment, but at the moment they’re dangerous and it’s a big concern for me – it’s happened to other people and it’ll happen again.
“Not all roads have appropriate crossings so I have to take that risk. I want to raise awareness and make sure there’s at least something helping to mitigate that risk.”
A number of similar incidents have been reported across the country and the Royal National Institute of Blind People is now calling for electric cars to be retro-fitted with the new sound warning devices.
Last month, a visually-impaired woman from Devon made national headlines when her guide dog failed to recognise an electric car, causing her to step out in front of one before being saved by a passer-by.
Zoe Courtney, policy and campaigns officer at the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said: “We are saddened to hear about Josh’s collision with a silent electric vehicle.
“Without standard internal combustion engines creating the vehicle sound we are all used to, electric and hybrid vehicles can be impossible to hear.
“This is particularly dangerous for blind and partially sighted people who rely heavily on sound to work out when it’s safe to cross a road.
“While we’re pleased added sound will now be required in all new types of electric and hybrid vehicles, this does not address the serious issue of the thousands of electric and hybrid vehicles already on UK roads.
“As it stands, these silent vehicles may never get fitted with this essential safety feature.
“Unless something is done urgently to retrofit existing vehicles, it’s almost inevitable there’ll be more instances of blind and partially sighted people being injured by collisions like Josh. This is unacceptable.
“We urge anyone who has been injured or involved in a near-miss incident with a silent vehicle to report this to the police without delay.”
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