What effect will the growth of Electric Vehicles have on noise levels in Urban Centres? Our Director Sean Rocks discusses:
As electric vehicles (EVs) gain popularity as a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation, questions have been raised about the impact their growing numbers may have on urban noise levels. Based on existing research road traffic noise is generally considered the most annoying type of environmental noise. While it is widely accepted that EVs are quieter than internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs), their impact on urban noise levels is still a matter of ongoing research.
In general, EVs are commonly expected to contribute less to urban noise pollution than traditional ICEVs. This is because electric motors generate less noise than internal combustion engines. In fact, many EV manufacturers have designed their vehicles to be nearly silent during operation, in order to enhance the driving experience for their customers.
However, while the engine noise of EVs is quieter than traditional vehicles, EVs are not completely silent. EVs still produce some noise while in operation, including the sound of the tires on the road and the whirring of the electric motor. In addition, some researchers have raised concerns that the near-silence of EVs could create new noise-related hazards for pedestrians and cyclists, who may not hear an EV approaching and may be at greater risk of accidents as a result.
Despite these concerns, research suggests that the overall impact of EVs on urban noise levels is likely to be positive, albeit small. One study published in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America found that the introduction of EVs could lead to a reduction in urban noise levels of up to 3 decibels (dB) in some areas. This may not sound like a significant reduction, but even small decreases in noise levels can have a big impact on public health and quality of life.
Despite this welcome decrease in noise levels, this will only be achievable after a large percentage of current vehicles are made up of EVs. Therefore as EV growth gradually increases, urban noise levels will slowly decrease. Due to the slow nature of the expected decrease, the change in noise levels are unlikely to be noticed over short increments.
In conclusion, the growth of electric vehicles is expected to have a minor positive impact on urban noise levels, as they are generally quieter than traditional vehicles and will eventually replace a large portion of the current fleet of ICEVs. However, the noise impact will be slow and gradual as EVs grow into a larger share of the current fleet. The health and safety aspects for pedestrians, especially those with vision and hearing difficulties may pose a new risk.