Gas-powered cars and trucks have played a crucial role in both American culture and commerce. Years ago, as cars became affordable, ordinary citizens gained a level of freedom and independence that had once been unimaginable. Similarly, the development of powerful trucks resulted in commercial transportation capabilities that made goods available to Americans in even the remotest of locations.
Now, America arguably finds itself in the early stages of a new transportation revolution with the development and wider acceptance of electric vehicles (sometimes called “EVs”). Of course, as with the development and adoption of any new product, it’s important to consider the question of safety.
Are electric cars safer? While their lower flammability and centers of gravity make electric vehicles safer in some ways, these cars carry unique dangers too. Learn more below.
The Growing Prevalence of Electric Vehicles
As a baseline, we should note that gas-powered vehicles still dominate the automobile market. According to Auto Alliance, in 2017, EV sales represented only 1.2 percent of the American automobile market. But we all know that the movement is gaining momentum. In fact, EV sales in the United States grew from 187,985 units in 2017 to 328,188 units in 2018, representing 1.96 percent of the market. That represents an increase in excess of 63 percent.
It should also be noted that the residents of some states are becoming comfortable with the technology more quickly than others. For example, in California, EV sales captured a 5.02 percent market share in 2017. The market share increased to 7.84 percent in 2018. Oregon had the 9th highest EV market share percentage in 2018, coming in at 3.41 percent.
Finally, it seems that we hear news stories daily about Tesla, new competitors coming to market, and legacy automobile companies developing new electric models. According to EV Globe, there were 57 EV automobile models available in 2020, with more than 25 additional models expected to become available over the next two years.
Are Electric Cars Safer?
Many experts contend that one reason why electric cars are safer than gas-powered cars is that they are less prone to catching fire. One obvious reason may be that conventional vehicles have a tank with combustible gasoline, which EVs do not. However, several instances have made headlines recently of electric vehicles catching fire in connection, it’s believed, with their lithium-ion battery systems.
It is true that electric vehicles sometimes catch fire, but Tesla claims that gasoline-powered cars are approximately 11 times more likely to catch fire than one of its vehicles. Additionally, all the way back in 2012, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) declared that “NHTSA does not believe that electric vehicles present a greater risk of post-crash fire than gasoline-powered vehicles.”
The federal government has noted another particular safety concern with EVs: their silent operation. Because they are difficult to hear, pedestrians and bicyclists may be less likely to hear them, which can result in accidents and injuries.
Why Many Believe Electric Cars Are Safer
The U.S. Department of Energy notes that EVs must meet the same safety standards that gasoline-powered cars must meet. The Energy Department also notes that EVs have a lower center of gravity, which actually increases safety by making those vehicles less likely to roll over. Some publications also contend that EVs promote health in general because they do not impact the environment as harshly as gasoline-powered automobiles.
Call with Questions
While electric vehicles have a number of positive characteristics, society still must deal with the toll caused by human error. No matter how safe a car is, when drivers make negligent mistakes, they can cause injury and death.
If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, the personal injury lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield will be happy to answer your questions. We handle personal injury cases all over Oregon. By helping our clients hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions, we believe that all of society is made safer. Reach out today.