What Florida Drivers Need to Know About Electric Cars

by Carmen Dellutri on December 13, 2011

Port charlotte personal injury attorneyLast week, we talked about the safety of hybrid vehicles, but what about completely electric cars? While these vehicles have not yet been widely adopted, they are quickly becoming more affordable and accessible.

As Florida personal injury attorneys, we think Florida drivers should be aware of several potential safety concerns associated with the evolving technology.

Most recently, federal safety officials have launched a probe into whether the lithium-ion batteries used to power electric vehicles are prone to fires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigation was launched after a Volt caught fire following a crash test.

According to experts, if a lithium battery is pierced by steel, a chemical reaction occurs that raises the temperature and can result in a fire. The smaller the piercing, the longer it can take for the fire to happen.

According to the NHTSA, the agency will conduct additional testing of the Volt's lithium-ion batteries and will continue to monitor these vehicles should any additional safety issues arise. The Associated Press reports that the safety regulator will also examine the safety of batteries from several makes of electric vehicles, including the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Roadster.

The good news is that based on the available data, the NHTSA does not believe the Volt or other electric vehicles are at a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles.

Nonetheless, electric cars do pose risks, including shock hazards. As a result, the NHTSA says that it is focused on identifying the best ways to ensure that consumers and emergency responders are aware of the risks they may encounter in electric vehicles in post-crash situations.

In addition, the agency has asked all of the manufacturers who currently have electric vehicles on the market (or plans to introduce electric vehicles in the near future) to provide information on the protocols they have established for discharging and handling their lithium-ion batteries — including any recommendations for mitigating fire risks in these vehicles.

In the meantime, the NHTSA urges the following precautions in the event of a crash involving an electric vehicle:

Consumers are advised to take the same actions they would in a crash involving a gasoline-powered vehicle — exit the vehicle safely or await the assistance of an emergency responder if they are unable to get out on their own, move a safe distance away from the vehicle, and notify the authorities of the crash.

▪       Emergency responders should check a vehicle for markings or other indications that it is electric-powered. If it is, they should exercise caution, per published guidelines, to avoid any possible electrical shock and should disconnect the battery from the vehicle circuits if possible.

▪       Emergency responders should also use copious amounts of water if fire is present or suspected and keeping in mind that fire can occur for a considerable period after a crash should proceed accordingly.

▪       Operators of tow trucks and vehicle storage facilities should ensure the damaged vehicle is kept in an open area instead of a garage or other enclosed building.

▪       Rather than attempt to discharge a propulsion battery, an emergency responder, tow truck operator, or storage facility should contact experts at the vehicle's manufacturer on that subject.

▪       Vehicle owners should not store a severely damaged vehicle in a garage or near other vehicles.

The Dellutri Law Group is focused on making bad situations better and putting lives back together. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a Florida car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation.

To learn more about your legal options, contact our experienced Florida injury attorneys for a free consultation. 

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