IIHS Calls for Lower Speed Limits for EVs

Risk of Unprotected EV Riders on Roadways

In an article released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), their Vice President, Raul Arbelaez, declared that the extra bulk of electric vehicles poses a heightened danger to other roadsters; as such, a possible resolution to potentially prevent extreme destruction is a reduction in speed restrictions.

The vice president observed that when the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) began examining electric cars back in 2011, there was a great concern over whether or not the bulky batteries signified an increased fire hazard. As of now, whilst fire remains a difficult issue to tackle, ponderings have shifted to the weight of EVs, such as the immense 9,500 pound GMC Hummer EV. The IIHS manifested their worries regarding the weight earlier on in 2020 and had to double-check the accuracy of their systems in order to test the mammoth GM item and other roomy electric vehicles.

Following the presence of 55 EV collisions, there has not been a single case of combustion recorded by the IIHS. The likelihood of such an occurrence is debatably far lower than imagined. Also, vehicles with higher weight are naturally much less vulnerable to rolling, and having a stalwart automobile will evince a lesser chance of suffering injury in the instance of an accient. However, if it is another driver that is at the receiving end of the crash, their omens of harm escalate significantly.

“When two vehicles collide, the heavier vehicle pushes the lighter one backward, resulting in higher forces on the people in the lighter vehicle and lower forces on people in the heavier vehicles,” explains Arbelaez. This phenomenon can have devastating consequences for pedestrians and cyclists who are hit by a much heavier vehicle. The difference in weight can result in a much greater impact, leading to more serious injuries or even death in some cases. It is clear that the heavier the vehicle involved in an accident, the more dangerous it can be for those outside of it.

Arbelaez affirms that two experiments performed by the IIHS in 2018 revealed that additional mass and dimension can drastically affect the result of a collision. The tests indicated that automobiles which had achieved adequate ratings independently were transformed into deplorable outcomes when collided with larger cars.

The VP has stated that the additional mass of electric vehicles (EVs) in comparison to conventional vehicles will not have a significant effect on accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists. However, they did point out that “large vehicles do represent a bigger threat to pedestrians and bicyclists, but that is due mostly to their height and shape, which affect both visibility and whether a person is knocked to the ground when struck.” Despite this, the increased weight of EVs could lead to extended stopping distances, thus potentially resulting in an increased number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities.

Arbelaez is keenly aware of the impressive acceleration capabilities of electric vehicles, such as the GMC Hummer EV, which can reach 60 mph in just three seconds when fully specced. Even the lower-end models can still provide a thrilling ride. Despite this, Arbelaez is not against electrification and acknowledges that “there are good reasons for it.” He adds that the weight of EVs won’t undo the progress made in automotive safety since the invention of the car, but that the development of them will require a new way of thinking about the vehicles we have on our roads.

The VP has declared that there is no need for EVs to have such a high amount of horsepower and range. Nevertheless, if they remain popular, “heavier vehicles could be designed with additional crush space in their front ends to make up for the impact of their extra weight in a crash with another vehicle,” thus using crumple zones to protect those outside an EV instead of those inside it. He is also optimistic that technology improvements will give us lighter batteries.

A wider charging network could also help consumers to opt for cars with lower range (and consequently, smaller, lighter batteries). Nevertheless, Arbelaez suggests that manufacturers should make high-performing pedestrian and bicyclist crash avoidance systems standard, as well as superior headlights. Lastly, he proposes that “states and governments should think about decreasing speed limits, taking into account the amplified danger from weight disparities.”

We concur that excessively hefty electric vehicles (EVs) represent a potential safety hazard. Thus, it is undebatable that some counteraction has to be taken. Nonetheless, if we take on the perspective of a devil’s advocate, then reducing speed limits could have the negative effect of augmenting carbon emissions due to increased traffic. Also, reduced speed limits in certain areas may compel drivers to accelerate their speeds in other routes. If any fresh speed restrictions are brought about, there will be an accusation that EVs spoil the paltry level of delectation which enthusiasts get out of their daily drives.

We implore that both manufacturers and policy makers put their entire focus into making upcoming models of cars that are more fit to our highways, instead of shifting the emphasis onto modifying roads to adequately cater to newer automobile designs which are out of reach for a lot of Americans.

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