With the Government announcing a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 – what will our roads look like when electric takes over?
The ban is being introduced as part of Boris Johnson’s ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ to tackle climate change. The PM’s decision will force us to acclimatise to driving electric on the roads. With this in mind as well Scotland’s plan to end sales of exclusively petrol and diesel cars by 2032 it is essential we explore the effects of this change. What will the impact of electric cars be on Road Traffic Accidents?
Transport accounts for a third of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK and environmentalists have long said there is a need to cut down on vehicle emissions, far fewer cars with a combustion engine on the road offers a viable solution to this problem. Electric and hybrid cars might not directly add to pollution but that doesn’t mean they come without their own safety concerns.
When comparing electric to conventional cars there are no safety features that are missing on electric models that are on standard models. In fact, in terms of handling electric vehicles are considered safer. This is because the heaviest component, the battery, is placed low down in the car meaning the weight is distributed equally. Many people find the driving experience more enjoyable and safer because of this.
Tesla’s Electric Cars Concerning Safety Record
Proper handling is important in reducing accidents caused by the driver, but accidents involving electric cars are often because of the vehicle itself. A well publicised example of this is the Tesla ‘Model S’, an electric model that sometimes ignited itself on fire following accidents. A man in Florida died after his Tesla crashed into a tree and ignited, as well as two teens who crashed their Model S into a wall. Worryingly for one case in Shanghai the Model S ignited whilst sitting in a parking garage, luckily with no one inside the vehicle. These cases were found to be caused by the electric battery lighting on fire. Since then Tesla has added a titanium barrier to their cars to protect drivers. However, Tesla CEO Elon Musk made a statement saying that fires involving conventional engines are far more common and it only seems more likely in electric cars due to the extensive media coverage.
Are Silent Cars Safe?
Something which should be considered before the launch of electric on our roads is if a silent car is a safe car. For years the advice for children (and adults) has been to ‘stop, look and listen’ but what if our roads are too quiet for us to hear? Electric cars overall are 30 per cent less likely to be involved in an accident according to the Transport Research Laboratory. However, they were found to be more likely to be involved in accidents involving pedestrians. Research by Guidedogs found that electric vehicles are 40 per cent more likely to collide with pedestrians than regular vehicles. This is particularly dangerous for pedestrians who are blind or hard of hearing. Some electric manufacturers are now installing noise-making devices to try to counteract this.
Like any new technology there are new risks introduced with electric vehicles. With the vehicles due to take over our roads from 2030 more research is needed to ensure public safety, so that we don’t see pedestrians involved in accidents with electric cars.
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