With the high price of gas and a desire to reduce one’s carbon footprint, electric cars are becoming more and more popular. Unlike conventional and hybrid vehicles, electric cars are powered entirely by electricity stored in a rechargeable battery. While electric cars can save money and help the environment, they do pose some hidden dangers.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents
On the road, pedestrians and bicyclists can hear when a vehicle or a motorcycle is coming toward them or behind them. The sound of the engine is a cue to pedestrians and cyclists to get out of the way. With electric cars, however, the engines are very quiet and produce almost no sound, especially when operated at lower speeds. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that electric vehicles are 19% more likely to be involved in a pedestrian accident than gasoline-powered vehicles.
The NHTSA recently finalized rules that would require electric cars to emit alert sounds at lower speeds that would warn pedestrians and cyclists of their approach. Automakers are required to have 50% of their fleets equipped with these alerts by September of 2019. Full compliance with the regulations is required by 2020. The NHTSA estimates that requiring the warning sound could prevent 2,400 injuries per year.
Battery Fires and Explosions
Electric cars are typically powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. There have been some high profile incidents involving lithium-ion batteries in cell phones and laptops. Lithium is a highly flammable substance that can burn very hot. Lithium-ion batteries can combust if they become overheated or overcharged. To reduce this risk, most manufacturers install a feature that shuts down the battery if the voltage is exceeded.
Electric car batteries are generally designed to withstand the impact of a vehicle collision and prevent ignition. However, if the battery cells that store electricity are pierced by metal, there is a possibility that a serious fire or explosion could result. Unlike gasoline fires which start almost immediately, fires in lithium-ion batteries require a build-up of heat over time before ignition. Automakers should install appropriate safety features that will prevent battery fires.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
If you’ve been injured by an electric car, you should have an experienced personal injury attorney evaluate your case. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have over 50 years of experience helping injured New Yorkers. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.