Electric car owners warned of ‘unsafe’ EV charging stations

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Around 87 percent of a sample of the UK’s public charging locations have poor lighting, while a staggering 77 percent do not have security cameras. Following a successful campaign launched last year, heycar is continuing its work to highlight grave safety concerns at public electric vehicle charging points as new research reveals the shocking state of the UK’s current infrastructure.

The campaign’s end goal is clear – for the Government to urgently introduce minimum personal safety standards at public EV charge points to protect vulnerable road users.

ChargeSafe, an independent five-star rating system designed to monitor the safety of EV charging stations, called on more changes to be made.

The urgent call aims to help protect women and vulnerable drivers while charging their EVs at any of the 37,000 public chargers across the UK.

Kate Tyrrell, co-founder of ChargeSafe, said: “It is critical to user safety that a charge point has a dedicated light over it and that the lights are bright and it is easy to identify the charge point from a distance. 

“Being visible to road users and other EV charge point users provides extra comfort to those charging at nightime, usually in unfamiliar surroundings and away from home, while the protection of security cameras is key to deter potential attackers or vandals.”

At the end of December 2022, there were 37,261 electric vehicle charging points across the UK, across 22,049 charging locations. 

This represents a 31 percent increase in the total number of charging devices since December 2021, according to Zap-Map data.

Many key players, including heycar and a number of charge point operators, have been calling on Transport Secretary Mark Harper and formerly Anne-Marie Trevelyan to introduce minimum personal safety standards.

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The standard would require EV charging locations to be well-lit with monitored CCTV cameras and emergency contact buttons as a minimum. 

EV locations that meet this standard would be identified with a kitemark so drivers know they can use them with confidence at night or when they are alone.

The campaign follows a survey of drivers which found that 80.3 percent feel vulnerable when charging their electric car and 62.9 percent don’t think security measures at charge points are adequate.

Almost nine in 10 EV drivers have chosen not to use a charge point because they felt unsafe at the location.

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Respondents were overwhelmingly in favour of a kitemark recognising EV charging locations with the best safety standards.

Sarah Tooze, consumer editor at heycar, said personal safety at public EV charging stations is an issue for all EV drivers, especially for women.

She added: “These findings from our campaign partner ChargeSafe are disappointing but not surprising given that EV drivers themselves, particularly women, have told us how unsafe they feel using public EV charging points. 

“While there are network operators taking safety issues seriously, this research shows how much more work needs to be done.”

Pod Point, the UK’s third biggest charge point network provider, has acknowledged the importance of making public charging locations safer.

James McKemey, head of policy and public affairs at Pod Point, said the company wanted to provide an accessible, safe EV charging experience for everyone. 

He added: “Heycar’s call for the introduction of minimum personal safety standards can help to improve these critical areas of the charging experience. 

“Key to those standards is understanding from electric vehicle drivers what makes them feel safe at a charge point, and we would encourage drivers to participate in the research heycar is conducting on this.”

Rapid electric vehicle charging network Osprey Charging told heycar that safety is “core” to its business.

Ian Johnston, CEO, Osprey Charging Network, said: “The creation of safe, well-lit spaces with multiple charge points at busy sites has always been core to Osprey’s ambition to build and run the UK’s highest quality EV charging network. These are the places drivers will want to charge and return to.

“We therefore support the prioritisation of safety across the charging industry by the creation of minimum standards, and look forward to consulting on what form these standards should take to be both effective and practical for charge point operators and host landlords to implement.”

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