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Some Electric Vehicles May Have a Public Safety Problem

Some manufacturers of electric vehicles are eliminating AM radios, one of the ways federal, state and local public safety officials communicate with the public about important information during emergencies.

Future drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) will be helping to protect the environment but in doing so could miss out on important public safety broadcasts.

That’s because some EV manufacturers are doing away with AM radios, one of the ways federal, state and local officials communicate with the public during emergencies.

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, is urging EV companies to continue giving drivers free access to AM radio in the interest of public safety.

AM radio is just one of several ways officials communicate with the public during disasters and emergencies, and the EV manufacturers say the public can be warned via other channels, such as the Internet, digital streaming packages or smartphone apps.

But Markey told Axios that for some citizens, the AM radio in a car is “irreplaceable.”

“Although many automakers suggested that other communications tools — such as Internet radio — could replace broadcast AM radio, in an emergency, drivers might not have access to the Internet and could miss critical information,” Markey said.

The trade association Alliance for Automotive Innovation suggests that FEMA’s public warning system was designed to provide multiple alerting sources across various outlets, such as texts, the Emergency Alert System on radio and television, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s weather radio.

Automakers say that EV motors interfere with AM frequencies and cause buzzing noises and faded signals.