Are electric car charging stations safe enough for drivers?
A new campaign calls for improved standards on electric car charging points, as women feel particularly unsafe when using the devices.
Transport Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan is set to introduce minimum personal safety standards to help protect women and vulnerable users at all of the UK’s 33,000 public charging stations, according to online marketplace Heycar .
The standard would require electric vehicle charging locations to be well-lit with monitored CCTV cameras and emergency contact buttons at a minimum.
EV locations that meet this standard would be identified with a kite mark so drivers know they can use them with confidence at night or when alone.
Charging an electric vehicle on a public device can be a ‘personal safety roulette’: a new campaign calls for improved standards at charging locations, requiring them to be well-lit and fitted with CCTV cameras
The campaign follows a survey of drivers which revealed that 80% feel vulnerable when charging their electric car.
This is due to a number of reasons, such as devices located at sites that make users feel isolated, poorly lit and unmonitored by CCTV cameras, which is not the case in the majority of ordinary gasoline pumps.
Of 500 EV drivers surveyed, 63% said they didn’t think security measures at current charging stations were adequate and 89% even left a device because they didn’t feel safe there. place.
Sarah Tooze, editor at Heycar, describes the existing public charging infrastructure as a “personal safety roulette”, especially for women.
“Personal safety at public electric vehicle charging stations is an issue for all electric vehicle drivers, but women feel particularly vulnerable,” she explained.
“At the moment it can feel like playing roulette – the drivers don’t know what they will find when they arrive.”
“The charging station could be in the back of an empty, dimly lit car park with no security cameras and it might not even work – potentially leaving them stranded if they don’t have enough charge.
“The issue is particularly pressing given that the clocks are ticking back towards the end of this month, which means more women are likely to find themselves charging in the dark.”
Tooze added: “Local authorities and charging station site owners also have a fundamental role to play in safety and security measures at charging station locations. With so many different stakeholders, government intervention is needed to ensure standards are set.
Keele University surveyed female electric car drivers and found that most feared charging late at night in dark, poorly lit, unsheltered and relatively isolated areas.
The campaign stems from new research from Keele University that illustrates women’s concerns when using public charging stations.
The university surveyed 16 female electric car drivers and found that most feared charging late at night in dark, poorly lit, unsheltered and relatively isolated areas.
Many reported feeling “trapped” inside their vehicle while charging, especially if there were no basic amenities nearby.
The university’s academics also noted that a woman with a disability could be “doubly vulnerable” if she charged in an unlit area and where accessibility to and from her vehicle to reach the charging cables was more difficult.
Additionally, they noted that men can also feel uncomfortable charging under these circumstances.
Professor Simon Pemberton, a member of the Keele University research team, said: “To date, the focus of public electric vehicle charging has been on the nature of chargers and the ability to rather than the actual needs and experiences of different user groups – such as women – with public electric vehicle charging.
“Our research begins to address this knowledge gap and the challenges that need to be overcome to facilitate a just transition to zero-emission vehicles in the UK.”
Nine out of ten electric car owners surveyed by Heycar said they walked away from a public charging station because they didn’t feel safe there
Calls for improved levels of personal security at public charging stations across the country have been backed by Volkswagen UK’s finance arm, although it admits it is not currently aware of any attacks on users on the sites.
Emma Loveday, Senior Fleet Consultant at VWFS UK, said: “There is a risk that women will be subjected to unwanted behavior and, worse, attacked.
“I haven’t heard of any incidents involving violence against women at charging stations, but I’m not naive enough to think it will ever happen.” It’s a question of when, not if.
Heycar’s campaign is also supported by ChargeSafe, the independent five-star rating system for public electric vehicle charging, based on personal safety and accessibility.
Its co-founder, Kate Tyrrell, said: “Ultimately, with the government banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030, we are all going to end up driving on electricity. But now it is possible to ensure that women are protected when charging their cars even before the infrastructure is built.
“There are currently around 33,000 public chargers – around 10% of the 300,000 we need in the UK by 2030 – so if we can create a standard in the next two years, before chargers are installed really takes off, then we can make a very positive impact on women’s safety nationally.
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