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Are Electric Vehicles Safer in an Accident?

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on March 19, 2020

While our dreams of flying cars are still just that, the rise of electric vehicles is upon us. With both the advancement of hybrids and fully electric cars, consumers have more environmentally friendly and cost-efficient options when shopping for a car. At first, many of these vehicles were limited to shorter drive times, but with the availability of cross-country charging stations, it is not uncommon to see an electric vehicle on a major U.S. highway. But with this increase in electric vehicles on the road, we have to ask how safe they are in an accident.

Safety Standards for Electric Vehicles

When a new electric vehicle is brought to market, it must undergo the same safety testing as gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles, which includes crash tests. In addition to the regular requirements, electric vehicles are also evaluated for the safety of their electric batteries. These tests measure the probability of a battery having a chemical leak and whether or not they will become dislodged during a crash.

One of the most important tests is how the electrical system handles a surge. Tests have shown that the car’s frame is shielded from the high-voltage electrical system, which ensures that passengers will not suffer an electric shock in an accident. Consumers may also worry that the vehicle is too light, as they lack many of the heavy-weight components that conventional cars have and may not handle a crash well. However, during crash tests, most electric vehicles demonstrated a lower center of gravity than standard passenger vehicles and are less likely to roll over.

Electric vs. Non-Electric Cars

After analyzing both crash test data and accident ratings, electric cars demonstrate a slightly lower risk of injury for passengers than for passengers in cars with gasoline or diesel engines, as concluded by the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA). Although consumers have been concerned about highly-publicized lithium battery fires in electric vehicles, data shows that gasoline poses a much larger risk of causing a fire or explosion than batteries.

In cases those cases where the Tesla Model S did catch fire in 2013, the occupants were actually safer in an electric vehicle than if they had been in a conventional car. In addition to there being no injuries, the cars only caught fire because the cells were damaged by road debris. If the same debris had struck a gas-powered car, it could have cut through the vehicle’s floorboard and could have seriously injured the occupants. The Tesla Model S, in contrast, has an aluminum plate that protects the batteries from exterior damage and provides further support for passengers.

Whether you are injured in an accident with an electric or conventional car, you should always remember that you have a right to compensation if negligence was involved. Our Seattle car accident attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. can conduct a thorough investigation into the other driver, manufacturers, or mechanics to determine liability and pursue compensation. Call us at (425) 228-3860 or toll-free at (888) 228-3860 to find out how you can recover compensation after a serious car accident.

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