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Electric Cars and Road Safety

April 20th 2020

In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of electric cars on the road [1]. An electric car runs “at least partially on electricity. Unlike conventional vehicles that use a gasoline or a diesel-powered engine, electric cars and trucks use an electric motor powered by electricity from batteries or a fuel cell.” [2].

Electric cars are believed to be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly than traditional automobiles [3]. They offer many benefits including: reduced emissions, reduced air pollution, reduced ecological damage, and decreased costs [4].

However, despite their many benefits, the quick accelerator response rate of electric cars may be a drawback in certain cases. A survey conducted by the French insurance company AXA indicated that electric cars may be involved in as many as 40% more accidents, compared to traditional automobiles [5]. This effect was seen only with SUVs and luxury vehicles; smaller electric cars actually generated 10% fewer insurance claims [6].

The researchers believe that the acceleration rate of the SUVs/luxury vehicles is a major factor in this increase. The average car can accelerate to 60 mph in 10 seconds; however most electric cars can get to that speed in 5 to 6 seconds or less [7]. The same study revealed that most drivers are unprepared for the rate of acceleration. This unpreparedness may lead to severe accidents. This point was illustrated in a crash test conducted by AXA, where the faster acceleration rate forced an inexperienced driver into the path of oncoming traffic while navigating a right-hand bend [6]. The damage to the test vehicle was considerate, as shown below in Figure 1.

Regardless of possible drawbacks, the popularity of electric cars continues to grow, as shown by the sales of Tesla models which increased by a third in the first quarter of 2020, when compared to the same period in 2019 [8]. As sales of electric cars continue to rise it is likely that that the rate of accidents will increase as well. As such, if your matter involves an electric vehicle, a LISKE Team Expert can help you to determine if the accident was caused due to human error in operating the electric vehicle, or due to factors outside of the driver’s control. Additionally, our Injury Biomechanics experts can help you to understand if the forces involved in an accident can be causally related to the injuries reported by those involved, and whether the acceleration rate of the electric vehicle was a factor.