The Dangers of Car Accidents With Electric Vehicles (Are They More Dangerous Than Normal Vehicles?)

It’s no secret that electric vehicles are more environmentally friendly than traditional, gas-powered cars. As scientists and climate experts continue to push for electric cars, it is essential to be aware of the dangers of car accidents with electric vehicles. While no one wants to get into a car accident, there is always that chance, no matter what type of vehicle you are in.

A car accident with an electric vehicle can still be dangerous.

If you have been involved in a crash and are looking for guidance, a Florida car accident lawyer from Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd can help. Keep reading to learn if electric vehicle accidents are more dangerous than typical car accidents.

The Difference Between Electric Cars and Gas-Powered Vehicles

While both electric cars and traditional vehicles get drivers and passengers to their destinations, how the vehicles operate and their features are incredibly different. Let’s take a look at the most common difference.

Autopilot vs. Cruise Control

Electric and gas-powered vehicles have options for drivers in speed control and steady driving. For traditional vehicles made in the past 50 or so years, cruise control allows drivers to set their cars at a given speed. This feature is primarily used on highways and freeways to improve gas mileage and keep up with traffic without overtaxing the driver.

Newer systems go beyond traditional cruise control by providing more inputs than just modulating the accelerator. These can steer the vehicle using lane-assist technologies, and they can even brake or decelerate if they sense a vehicle ahead that is stopped or moving slowly. These “advanced cruise control” systems use ultrasonic sensors and cameras to sense the environment around the car. Many manufacturers are currently offering these features or exploring their use, and electric vehicle manufacturers, in particular, are enthusiastic about providing this technology to drivers.

Tesla, for example, offers its “Autopilot” advanced driver assistance program, which has nearly full self-driving capabilities. Navigation, parking, lane changes, and traffic and stop controls are managed by the internal computer system. While the vehicles are essentially autonomous, current technology still requires driver supervision. The systems are also dependent on the current permissions granted to the vehicle by the manufacturer and the level of software purchased by the vehicle owner. Autopilot, for example, cannot operate on undivided roadways, such as in neighborhoods, while the “Full Self-Driving Beta” feature is working towards near-autonomous functionality on practically any roadway.

At the same time, evidence shows that these advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) can have flaws that can make them fail to function as expected. A 2021 report noted that a Tesla owner’s onboard computer mistook the moon for a yellow traffic signal, causing the system to perform in an unexpected way. Another case saw a Tesla on Autopilot fail to stop for emergency vehicles, leading to a collision at highway speeds. While these systems provide warnings that drivers must be prepared to intervene, a review by MIT found that drivers inevitably became inattentive when Autopilot was engaged.

Batteries vs. Gasoline

Both battery-operated and gas-powered vehicles risk catching on fire in the event of a crash. However, the gasoline in standard vehicles requires a spark to ignite and provide power. With electric vehicles, the lithium-ion batteries used do not require any sort of flame, just a way to draw the current.

Like gas-powered vehicles, electric cars are also at risk of catching fire if a battery short circuits or is exposed to high temperatures. Batteries that get too hot can ignite, in other words, and this can lead to a condition known as “thermal runaway.” Lithium-ion batteries are made of multiple cells. When one cell catches fire, the fire will spread to the other compartments — igniting the whole battery.

To reduce fires from accidents involving gasoline-powered vehicles, manufacturers have updated gas tank designs and altered their locations. For example, many gas tanks now have automatic shutoffs to reduce the risk of open flames reaching the tank in the event of a collision. However, fires do still happen.

In regard to batteries, manufacturers are continuing to develop technology that creates a built-in fail-safe to shut down batteries when they heat past safe limits. For example, Tesla uses radiator-chilled coolant to keep battery packs as cool as possible, while other manufacturers divide batteries to spread out the power and reduce temperature.

Nevertheless, battery fires represent an unfamiliar and highly risky prospect for crash victims and emergency workers alike. Dousing the flames requires 30,000 to 40,000 of gallons of water, per Tesla’s instructions, and they also advise that vehicles are monitored since the batteries can appear to spontaneously reignite even several days after the crash.

Pedestrians and Distractions

When it comes to pedestrians and distractions, drivers of traditional and electric vehicles must be aware and vigilant of their surroundings at all times. It only takes a moment for a distraction like a text message to result in a severe accident.

Drivers of electric vehicles that are also self-driving still need to focus on the road and be aware of potential hazards. The technology currently available is not 100% effective in avoiding accidents and pedestrian collisions.

Are Electric Vehicles Safer in an Accident?

The measure of safety for car accidents is based on the number and severity of injuries drivers, passengers, and others can potentially sustain.

In a traditional vehicle, the engine block takes up a significant amount of space. As a result, there may not be a considerable amount of room for collision absorption. With electric vehicles, fewer engine components mean there is often more absorption space. As a result, occupants are likely to bear a less-significant brunt of the impact.

Another safety measure to consider is how well vehicles perform in accidents in terms of safety features and protections afforded to occupants. Regardless of whether a vehicle is electric or not, safety features like traction control, airbags, speeding mitigation, and anti-rollover contribute significantly to the consequences of an accident. As electric vehicles are newer than most traditional vehicles, they are often equipped with the latest safety features to protect occupants in the event of an accident.

Safety Advancements and the Future of Car Accidents

As auto manufacturers continue to push for the release of electric vehicles, consumers are looking for more benefits. As such, new safety features are constantly in the works. Soon, your vehicle could contain the following:

  • Car-to-car communication — Electric vehicles may feature car-to-car communication. The system would enable cars to be alert of traffic jams, accidents, inclement weather, and other road hazards.
  • Driver override technology — If a driver becomes distracted or falls asleep at the wheel, future technology could allow vehicles to take control if they determine an accident will happen.
  • Side collision prevention — Sideswipe collisions are among the most common car accidents. They most often occur at intersections. In an effort to reduce the number of side-impact accidents, manufacturers are looking for ways to incorporate additional blindspot detectors and warning signals to inform drivers of what is going on around them that they may not see.

Even with continued safety advancements, accidents can and will still occur. If you have been injured, you will benefit from understanding your legal rights and options.

Injured in an Accident? Contact a Florida Car Accident Lawyer

If you sustained injuries and losses in a car accident you believe someone else caused, you have the right to pursue legal action. With the help of a Florida car accident lawyer from Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, you can learn about your options and receive client-centered legal representation to get on the path to receiving the compensation you need and deserve.

When you reach out to our law firm, we will schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to review your situation. If you choose to pursue legal action with our help, we will ensure you understand every step of the process.

To learn more, call 866-460-1990 or contact us online today.

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