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Public EV charging stations must be safe spaces for drivers

Charging in remote areas or at night could make drivers feel unsafe or anxious. Lewis Gardiner outlines approaches to address the situation

As we move ever closer to the ban on the sale of new gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2030 in the UK and by 2035 in the EU, electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming increasingly more popular. With this comes a need for the correct charging infrastructure in the correct places, and this means making sure that public charging sites are carefully considered for personal safety, for everyone to use.

There are currently approximately 1.8 million public chargepoints across the globe. With that number on the increase, how can chargepoint operators and commercial landlords ensure that these sites provide a safe and comfortable charging experience for EV drivers?

EV charging
Osprey’s Paisley Pear hub features CCTV, lighting and well-staffed amenities

One of the first points to consider is the location and the surrounding areas. Building a charging hub near to an area with local amenities not only makes it more convenient for drivers but it also helps them feel less isolated. Installing chargers around busy retail or close to busy residential areas with a high footfall offers drivers, particularly those charging by themselves, invaluable peace of mind that should a problem occur, people and amenities are nearby to help.

Many drivers, whether they are commuting to or from work or travelling long distances, need to charge their EV at times when it is dark and so it is essential that charging stations are well-lit throughout. Better illuminated areas more effectively deter vandalism or potential threats whilst also improving visibility to others in the car park.

In some areas and cases there is the additional need for CCTV to cover chargers and the spaces around them. Like those who install home security systems or video doorbells, this is a useful method of deterring unwanted activity and making charging sites feel safer for drivers.

Likewise, a straightforward payment process is also important when it comes to creating a comfortable charging experience, particularly at night. By installing chargers with an easy and seamless payment method, such as contactless, drivers can pay swiftly with the tap of a card, minimising time spent outside of their vehicle or the amenities, and letting them resume their journey as quickly as possible.

Better illuminated areas more effectively deter vandalism or potential threats whilst also improving visibility to others in the car park

Installing hubs of four or more chargers where possible at a site is another way of creating a more secure and safe charging experience. Drivers can feel uncomfortable or anxious if they are alone when charging an EV, and so stations with multiple chargers will help mitigate that by increasing the likelihood that more people will be around. However, it’s also important to design the layout of the chargers and bays to ensure that charging EVs remains accessible for all.

Finally, there are organisations that support the prioritisation of safety across the charging industry. In the UK for example, CPOs can work with ChargeSafe, a public charging endorsement body that independently inspects and rates EV charging locations, with safety making up a large proportion of its key criteria alongside accessibility. By meeting these standards CPOs and commercial landlords can demonstrate their commitment to the safety of EV drivers. This creates an environment that drivers will want to return to and in turn encourage and enable the adoption of EVs.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

Lewis Gardiner is Head of Operations of Osprey Charging, one of the largest networks of rapid electric vehicle charging points in Great Britain

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