THE rise of electric cars is causing concern for the town's blind community.

The Swindon Branch of Guide Dogs for the Blind shared on Facebook a report by ITV News which showed Nathan Edge have a near-miss with an electric vehicle as he tried to cross the road.

Only the actions of his guide dog Abby saved the 25-year-old from Mansfield.

Alan Fletcher, the chairman of the Swindon group, has revealed his fears about the new vehicles.

He said: “We just can’t hear them. They need to have a noise, an engine noise, installed in them.”

From July 2019, all new electric vehicles produced must, by law, have an engine sound. But Mr Fletcher pointed out there is a switch on the cars which means the owner can turn those noises off.

“By 2023 they are taking the switch away so it can’t be turned off but that’s not great for right now," he said.

“We will still have to wait three years for it. I don’t get why manufacturers will wait that long.

“Surely they would want it gone as soon as possible because it will be a cost reduction. We want this sorted before 2023.

“It’s hit and miss, we’re lucky we haven’t had any accidents in Swindon yet. It’s so dangerous.”

Alan added that it isn’t just the visually impaired who have issues with electric vehicles.

He said: “When I posted the story on Facebook, a lot of the general public said they’ve had incidents when there’s been a car right behind them and they can’t hear it coming.

“Ordinary members of the public are having issues. Something needs to be done.”

According to website 265,000 plug-in electric cars were registered in the UK in 2019. There were more than 72,700 cars sold across the 12 months compared to 59,700 in 2018.

Speaking to ITV, RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: “As of July 2019, all new electric vehicles must have a noise-emitting device which sounds like a traditional engine when travelling below 12mph.

“This was introduced by the EU to address concerns that pedestrians’ lives were being put at risk due to electric cars and vans being too quiet.

“While this is good news, it should be remembered that there are already tens of thousands of electric vehicles on the UK’s roads which were produced before this rule was passed.

“These vehicles, therefore, present an ongoing danger for all pedestrians, but particularly those who have sight issues.

“There is also an argument that electric vehicles should have to emit a sound whatever speed they are travelling at.”