Are Electric Cars More Dangerous in a Crash?
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Are Electric Cars More Dangerous in a Crash?

14th November 2023

  • Many people considering an electric vehicle wonder if they’re more dangerous than a gas-powered car in the event of an accident.
  • While EVs have sophisticated safety features, their batteries pose a significant explosion risk.
  • EVs pose a higher risk for accidents because their rapid acceleration can surprise drivers.
  • Certain insurance and liability considerations are specific to EVs.
  • A skilled attorney can help EV accident victims get the money they deserve.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are gradually revolutionizing the automobile industry. But are electric cars more dangerous in a crash? That’s what a lot of prospective buyers want to know. In this article, we’ll take a look at that question. If you’re considering purchasing one, we hope this information will help you make the best decision for the safety of you and your family.

If you’re in a motor vehicle accident, the attorneys with Sand Law have the skill and experience needed to help you obtain maximum compensation. Please contact us online or call 701-609-1510 for a free consultation.

Understanding Electric Cars

EVs don’t have an internal combustion engine like traditional cars. Instead, they run on an electric motor powered by a battery. Owners charge the battery by using special equipment or through a wall outlet.

There are other differences between EVs and gas-powered cars. One is that an EV doesn’t emit exhaust. In addition, EVs don’t have a fuel line or fuel pump, and they also don’t have a tank.

EVs haven’t yet caught on with the general public, but experts believe that will change within a few years. EV sales in the U.S., analysts predict, will reach between 40-50% of all passenger car sales by 2030.

However, EV adoption has a long way to go in North Dakota. As of 2021, North Dakotans had only registered 400 EVs. This number is the smallest in the country. South Dakota reported 700 EV registrations.

Safety Features in Electric Vehicles

EVs have many of the same safety features as gas-powered cars. These include lane assist, blind spot monitors, rearview cameras, and others. But other features are specific to EVs. These include the following:

  • Remote speed adjustment: EV manufacturer Tesla lets owners pre-set a vehicle’s top speed. They can also monitor that speed in real time if someone else is driving the car.
  • Reduced rollover risk: A rollover is one of the most dangerous accidents. EVs have a lower center of gravity than traditional cars and a stronger frame.
  • Regenerative braking: EVs are unique in that they also use electricity to slow down. Regenerative braking converts kinetic energy into electricity when the owner takes their foot off of the accelerator or lightly taps the brake. EV brakes don’t use nearly as much friction as traditional cars, making them less likely to wear out and contribute to an accident.

Crash testing and safety standards are as rigorous for EVs as for traditional vehicles, ensuring they meet the same safety regulations. The 2023 Kia EV6 has National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) frontal and side-impact ratings of 5/5, as does the 2022 Audi Q4 Sportback E-Tron.

Risks Associated with Electric Cars in Crashes

While EVs provide a lot of advantages, they also carry significant risks. For example, the vast majority of EVs run on lithium-ion batteries. These are similar to the batteries found in cell phones and laptop computers.

The issue with lithium-ion batteries is that they pack a lot of energy into a small space. When ignited, they explode. The more batteries an EV has, the bigger the explosion. Tesla EVs, for instance, have about 7,000 of them.

The explosive nature of lithium-ion batteries can pose a considerable problem for first responders. Another, even more significant, issue is that these batteries don’t need oxygen to burn. Traditional means of firefighting, such as extinguishers, fire blankets, and foam, put out flames because they rob them of oxygen. Those methods won’t work when EV batteries catch fire.

Another safety concern is power. Many EV models accelerate much faster than regular vehicles. This can surprise people who weren’t expecting such rapid acceleration. According to one study, EVs crash 50% more often than traditional vehicles.

Real-World Electric Vehicle Collisions

Unfortunately, there are several examples of horrible EV accidents. In June 2023, four people died when an EV caught fire after crashing into a building in China. Also, in June 2023, an accident near Tacoma, WA, also claimed a life. The car flew off of the road and wedged into a tree, burning the driver to death.

Firefighters responding to the scene reported that the explosions coming from the EV were like “bottle rockets.” Months later, thousands of battery cells remained lodged inside the tree, split in two by the impact.

The Legal Perspective on Electric Car Accidents

North Dakota law doesn’t differentiate between crashes involving EVs and traditional vehicles. But some liability and insurance considerations could come into play. Here are just a few:

Liability Considerations

  • Vehicle safety: EVs often have advanced safety features, and liability might involve assessing whether these features were properly functioning during the accident. Issues with the vehicle’s software, batteries, or charging systems could impact liability.
  • Manufacturer responsibility: In cases of a malfunction or defect, liability might fall on the manufacturer, mainly if the accident resulted from a fault in the EV’s design or production.
  • Charging infrastructure: Liability may extend to entities responsible for charging stations if an accident occurs due to a charging malfunction or electrical issue.

Insurance Considerations

  • Specialized coverage: Insurance for EVs might require specialized coverage due to the unique components like the battery pack, which tends to be more expensive to repair or replace than traditional components in internal combustion engine vehicles.
  • Battery coverage: Battery damage or degradation could be a significant cost factor. Some insurance policies may include coverage for battery-related issues, including degradation over time.
  • Repair costs: Repairs for EVs can be more expensive due to their specialized components. Insurers may need to consider these higher repair costs when setting premiums or coverage amounts.

Are Electric Vehicles More Dangerous in a Crash?

While EVs have sophisticated safety features, you could argue that the answer to the question, “Are electric vehicles more dangerous in a crash?” is “Yes.”

One concern is related to the high-voltage battery in EVs we covered earlier. In rare and severe accidents, damage to the battery could potentially lead to a fire. While this risk is minimal, and manufacturers have safety measures in place, it’s an aspect that some may point to when discussing the potential dangers of EVs in crashes.

How Sand Law Can Help You with Your EV Car Accident

Sand Law attorneys will fight for your rights if you’ve suffered an injury in an EV accident. If you would like a free case evaluation, please call 701-609-1510 or use our online form.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are electric cars safe?

Like their traditional counterparts, electric cars are subject to safety regulations and undergo testing to ensure they meet safety standards. They often include advanced safety features, benefiting from their construction with modern safety technologies.

Are electric cars more likely to catch fire?

While any vehicle with a battery, including electric cars, has a risk of fire in an accident, instances of electric cars catching fire are relatively rare. Manufacturers implement safety measures to minimize this risk, including battery encasement and systems that isolate damaged cells to prevent further issues.

Are electric cars safe in a crash?

In a crash, electric cars often perform comparably or even better than internal combustion engine vehicles in terms of safety. Their design, including a lower center of gravity due to the heavy battery placement, can provide better stability and handling. Additionally, the absence of a large engine in the front can sometimes allow for improved crumple zones, enhancing crash safety.