Electric vehicle charging points “need to be more accessible” for the one in five people with disabilities, the AA president has said. His words come after a survey of more than 17,000 people revealed eight in 10 respondents said charge points should be designed with the needs of disabled people in mind.
In the study, which took place in 2021, 73 percent of respondents said charge point spaces should be wheelchair friendly. And 79 percent said charging points themselves should be designed with consideration for the needs of users with limited mobility or physical disabilities.
The AA says one in five people in the UK has some sort of disability, while one in 10 UK cars are bought on behalf of disabled people. With the ban on the sale of new petrol or diesel cars just eight years away, the organisation says it is “essential” that charging infrastructure is accessible.
Motability, the charity that helps disabled people acquire vehicles, has already begun work on this issue, teaming up with fellow disability charity Designability, the British Standards Institution (BSI) and the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV). Together, the four organisations plan to create national standards that set a minimum level of accessibility for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Motability says the work is particularly important because its research estimates 2.7 million UK drivers or passengers will have a disability by 2035. And it thinks half of those people will be “reliant” on the public car charging network.
“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,” said AA president Edmund King. “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.
“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. We are getting to the point where the uptake of EVs is moving quickly from early-adopters, who perhaps put up with more quirks in the system, to more mainstream drivers who will rightly want the infrastructure to meet their expectations.”
King also raised the question of safety for all drivers, saying some charging points are tucked away in “remote corners” with “little lighting or security for users”. He said some drivers will feel “vulnerable” using such charging points, and urged charge point providers to make their posts “accessible and safe”.