How Safe are Electric Cars in Accidents?


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By Crispin Bateman

on Friday 25 January 2019


Electric car plugged into charging point

At Accident Line Direct, we are always happy when we see technology that makes the world a safer place. Even though our business is focused on accidents, we would prefer that there were none and so we eagerly keep an eye on anything that can help make that a reality.

Advances in car technology are helping to make the world a safer place – electric cars do away with tanks of fossil fuels and have loads of new advanced features, so surely, they are making the roads safer?

To bring you up to speed with some of those improvements, we thoughts we’d take a look at the rise of the electric car:

Electric cars and self-driving cars – what’s the difference?

With the buzz around artificial intelligence and self-driving cars at the moment, it’s easy to forget that not all electric cars drive themselves. In fact, the vast majority of electric cars are no different to a standard petrol or diesel vehicle in terms of how they feel to drive around.

That’s not to say the exciting world of self-driving cars isn’t on the horizon. The technology is definitely there and is likely to become completely normal in the next generation or so – and while that may seem like a long time, the time will fly by (unlike the cars, which are still very much wheel-based ground vehicles!).

For now, though, electric car generally refers to the fuel system and means a car that has no internal combustion engine (petrol or diesel) but instead runs off a motor connected to a battery. In fact, it’s power source and ‘refuelling’ system is a lot closer to that of a mobile phone than a traditional car.

Are electric cars safe?

The first thing that’s important to note is that a car is only as safe as its driver is skilled and alert.

Having an electric car with all its advanced technology is not going to prevent a collision if you are driving while too tired or distracted and breaking the law by using a mobile phone.

Should you have a collision in an electric car, you can expect all the latest in safety technology to help you: airbags and crumple zones are all part of modern car design and will not fail you here. Every effort has been made by modern electric car manufacturers to provide a safe drive.

How safe are electric car batteries? Can an electric car explode?

When you take away a large tank of combustible fuel, it stands to reason that you have made the car safer, right?

It’s true.  Unfortunately, Lithium-ion batteries, of the sort that make an electric car battery can also give cause for concern as they have been known to explode! A car battery explosion would be an impressive thing, as there are often thousands of single batteries in an array to make the main power cell.

Is this a problem, however? Electric car manufacturers have put in a lot of work to ensure that the batteries are properly cooled and, in the event of a crash, that they are disconnected from the circuit. These safety features mean that realistically, there’s no real risk.

Overall, the chance of a car battery exploding is tiny and much smaller than a similar catastrophic event with a fuel tank – it is certainly not something likely to occur outside of a Hollywood film chase sequence.

Are electric cars more likely to catch fire?

While there is some minor worry regarding the explosive qualities of a lithium-ion battery array, the chance of a fire aboard an electric car is so statistically low as to be of little relevance.

According to experts, the chance of a fire on an electric car is approximately eleven times less likely than in a standard petrol-powered vehicle.

What about electrocution? Is there an electric car electrocution risk?

Dropping further down the chain of likelihood is that of electrocution. With everything properly sealed and isolated, the chance of being electrocuted in your electric car is very close to zero. Even if you drove the car into a river and it became completely waterlogged, it isn’t a realistic possibility. Good to know!

What technologies exist in electric cars to make them safer?

The options available in your electric car vary widely from manufacturer to manufacturer, but some features that are becoming increasingly available include:

  • Electronic Stability Control – This feature means the car can independently adjust breaking in each wheel to help keep the vehicle stable on the road. It’s a standard feature on most modern cars (both traditional and electric) and is very likely to be part of your safety setup.
  • Electric Brake Force Distribution – Similar in some ways to ESC, brake force distribution makes sure that brakes are applied in such a manner as to avoid skidding or swerving even in poor conditions.
  • Autonomous Emergency Braking – Touching the fringes of self-drive, AEB systems can perform an emergency braking procedure in the case of a sudden obstruction, reacting many times faster than a human driver would.
  • Lane-Keeping Technology – With sensors able to tell if you are veering out of a lane, the car can pull you back on course.
  • Speed Limiting and Adaptive Cruise Control – These speed control systems can make sure you are always doing an appropriate speed. Limiting prevents you from crossing the speed limit except in an emergency, while adaptive cruise control can provide a perfect cruising speed on motorways, adjusting to traffic and the general speed of the car in front.
  • Parking Assistance – Whether it’s as simple as a parking camera and radar system to beep when you are close to touching an obstacle, or a fully-fledged artificial intelligence self-parking system, your electric car is bound to have something to help you fit in the most awkward space.

What should I do if I am involved in an accident with an electric car?

If you are injured due to a road traffic accident that was not your fault, then give Accident Line Direct a call. Our personal injury lawyers work on a No Win No Fee basis that means you can have access to expert legal advice without it costing you a single penny!

We can help you claim for compensation across a range of injuries due to a car accident that was not your fault – whether it was caused by another driver or a new artificial intelligence system!

For help and more information regarding our services, call Accident Line Direct today, or fill in our contact form to have an expert advisor get back to you at a time most convenient for you.

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