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How Well Do Horses Hear Electric Cars?

Filed under: Education,Health & Training |     

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Equine Science Update

Electric cars are becoming more common. They make less noise than vehicles with petrol or diesel engines, raising a concern that people may not hear them coming. What about horses? Can they hear electric cars in time? 

A new study instigated by the British Horse Society (BHS) in conjunction with the Electric Vehicle Association (EVA) Scotland. and Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland, investigated the reaction of horses to the noise of an electric car.

They research team monitored the response of three different horses to approaching cars (three electric and one petrol).

A horse, with rider, stood facing along the road with the car approaching from behind. The noise produced by the car was recorded using a high sensitivity microphone. The horse’s reaction to the car was recorded using a smartphone video camera.

They conclude that: “the low-level noises produced by electrical vehicles are being detected by the horses quite early on and they are aware of the presence of the vehicle much before the humans are.”

Presenting the report at a launch in Eglington Country Park (Scotland), Alan Hiscox, Director of Safety at The British Horse Society said:

“With more and more electric cars on Britain’s roads, this report’s new data and analysis provides significant insight. Not only will it help to alleviate concerns from riders about how their horse reacts to electric vehicles due to limited sound levels, but it will also be a vital tool when it comes to encouraging drivers, regardless of whether they are driving an electronic or conventional vehicle, to be careful when passing horses on the road.”

Professor James Njuguna, Research Strategic Lead at Robert Gordon University, added: “The number of horse and electrical vehicle accidents and incidents are on the rise with society’s shift to electric vehicles, bicycles, and scooters. A better understanding of horse behaviour in the presence of an electric vehicle is a step forward for the shared road safety of all road users: drivers, riders, and horses alike. It is a pleasure to support this effort alongside the BHS and EVA Scotland in this campaign. The findings clearly indicate the horse is cautiously recognising EVs long before the rider does and forms a baseline for detailed studies in future.”

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