Visually impaired woman warns over dangers of ‘silent killer’ electric cars

A visually impaired woman is warning of the dangers of electric vehicles, branding them “silent killers”.

Debra Roffey, 52, and her five-year-old guide dog Crystal were almost hit by a near-silent electric car on the seafront at Paignton, Devon, in November 2017.

“Electric cars are silent killers. A passer-by grabbed me, pulling me and Crystal out of the way of one,” she said.

“There was no warning. There was no noise and no fumes from an exhaust, so Crystal didn’t pick up on the fact there was a car behind us on the seafront pathway. We could have been seriously injured or worse.”

Mrs Roffey (pictured), who is married to Philip, 68, has optical atrophy and has 10% vision in her left eye, with her right eye completely blind.

“I only go outside with Crystal and always put my life in her hands. What happened has definitely damaged my confidence, so something needs to be done,” she said.

She is backing Vision Express’s Stop Look Listen campaign, which is emphasising to pedestrians the importance of looking before crossing a road.

“It is ridiculous that there are so many noiseless electric cars on the road – I’ve nothing against electric cars but they should all have sound systems so people know they are there,” added Mrs Roffey, from Lamerton, Tavistock.

Vision Express commissioned a survey for Road Safety Week which found one in five people has experienced a collision or near miss with an electric car.

It also found 76% of people feel unsafe because of quiet electric and hybrid cars.

There are 250,000 on UK roads, with as many as nine million predicted by 2030.

A new EU law means new electric and hybrid vehicles must be fitted with an audio signal system and by July 2021 all electric and hybrid vehicles need to have one.

Dan McGhee, from Vision Express, said: “There could be nine million electric and hybrid cars on the road by 2030 and we know that 85% of adults admit having problems with their vision.

“With these statistics in mind, we wanted to launch a campaign that drives awareness to the vital “Look” and the importance of maintaining regular eye checks to stay road safe.

“As part of our research, 70% believe Stop Look Listen is still a relevant road safety message in light of hazards on our roads, so we are encouraging all those who have been putting eye tests off to act now.”

– Vision Express commissioned One Poll to survey 2,000 people between November 12 and 15.

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Family handout / PA Wire.

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