New national standards for EV charge points imminent: Installations will need to have specific requirements to make them easily accessible for anyone with mobility issues
Electric vehicle charge points need to be made more accessible for the one in five people with disabilities, AA president Edmund King has told those responsible for boosting the UK’s charging network.
He told the EV Infrastructure summit on Tuesday that all new devices need to be well-lit, provide enough space for those in wheelchairs to access them and generally be better designed for those with limited mobility and/or physical disabilities.
His comments come ahead of the expected arrival of new national standards, which are currently being drawn up by the Government’s electric vehicle department, to set minimum requirement for public chargers installed in Britain in the future.
The AA says more needs to be done to educate motorists about how to use devices and that drivers are broadly backing calls for better accessibility when charging EVs away from peoples’ homes.
A poll of 17,302 licence holders last year found that three quarters want all chargepoints with designated EV parking spaces to be wheelchair friendly and four in five saying they should be designed with users with limited mobility in mind.
There was also calls for access to dedicated 24/7 call helplines at locations.
With installations of chargers expected to accelerate dramatically between now and the 2030 ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars, charities have been calling for on-site improvements to help those with disabilities.
Motability has been working on this issue in conjunction with fellow disability charity Designability, the British Standards Institution (BSI) and the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) and will result in a new national standard being set.
The AA said one of the minimum requirements for all new public charger installations is that they are well-lit and screens and cables are in easy reach for those standing and sitting
Edmund King OBE, AA president, told the conference: ‘The AA has been raising the issue of accessibility and security at charging posts and polled members on it last year, but we are absolutely delighted that Motability has taken this several steps forward and are close to an approved standard.
Edmund King says his experience driving EVs has identified a number of charge point usability issues, including heavy cables
‘In simple terms, charging posts need to be well-lit, close to amenities, with space around the vehicle to allow people to use walking or mobility aids.
‘It is also essential that the instructions, screen, and cables can be easily viewed and used from a sitting and standing position.’
King, who regularly tests the latest electric vehicles, says that he has learned from his own experience of using a plug-in car that not all chargers are suitable for those with mobility issues.
He said the height and weight of cables, particularly in enclosed areas with little space, were one of the biggest problems.
These concerns were said to be taken into account for the design of a new ‘iconic’ chargepoint funded by the Government and unveiled at the end of 2021.
Designed by the Royal College of Art and PA Consulting following a £200,000 grant from the OZEV and revealed by Grant Shapps in November, the device is said to be ‘inclusively accessible for everyone’ with the information displayed on the side of the charging post and the charger handle at a height that can be reached by someone in a wheelchair.
‘Creating new charging posts that are easily accessible will not only benefit disabled drivers but will be a great help to our ageing population and indeed all drivers,’ Mr King added.
Pictured: Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps unveiling the new car charging point designed by the Royal College of Art at the Design Museum in London on 10 November 2021
Millions ‘lack confidence’ about charging electric cars
Call for a new minimum standard for chargepoint accessibility comes as a separate AA report found that millions of drivers are generally uncertain about how to charge EVs.
Some 39 per cent would not feel comfortable about knowing which chargers would be compatible with a particular EV, according to a poll of more than 13,400 motorists.
The survey also indicated that 30 per cent of drivers are not confident they could use a public chargepoint correctly without assistance, with 22 per cent feeling that way about charging at home.
More than a quarter (27 per cent) of respondents said they are not confident they could understand the range of an EV.
To use chargepoints, EV drivers need to know the maximum charge rate of their car and what type of plugs it can connect to.
The AA says this general lack of understanding from the general public should spark more information on EVs to be included in the Highway Code.
Millions of drivers are uncertain about charging electric vehicles, a new AA survey suggests
It expressed concern there is currently no dedicated advice on EVs in the code despite the sale of conventionally-fuelled new cars being prohibited in the UK from 2030.
AA Driving School interim managing director Mark Oakley said: ‘With the ban of new petrol and diesel cars just eight years away, the Highway Code should be updated to reflect the future direction of driving.
‘EVs have been growing in popularity for years, and we are pleased to be introducing them to the AA Driving School from March, but it’s clear from our research that our instructors will need to play a key role in helping educate learner drivers about the technology and terminology around them.
‘New drivers are still getting to grips with EVs and learning what’s best for them.
‘We’re committed to playing our part in the early adoption of EVs for new pupils to learn in, but would call on the Government to improve the information and guidance publicly available.’
An update to the Highway Code on January 29, which will outline new rules giving pedestrians and cyclists priority over car drivers at junctions.
It will also include more details about smart motorways, which last week were put on hold over safety concern.
The only EV-related addition will be a reminder that EV charging cables can be a trip hazard on pavements.
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