The dangers of electric cars

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Electric cars seem like a simple way to make a difference in an increasingly environmentally conscious world. In fact, in 2023, more than 452,000 electric cars were registered: up 41% from the year before. Despite their green presence, electric vehicles still pose many of the same dangers that any other vehicle on the road has. Maybe even more.

What are the benefits of electric cars?

Electric cars were first introduced in the 1800s but were only mass-produced in 1996, with their popularity surging around 2010 with the launch of Tesla Motors. Since then, it seems that every other person has an electric car and there are three types: a hybrid (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and all-electric vehicles (EV or AEV).

Electric vehicles have numerous benefits, including:

  • Lower running costs (you don’t have to pay for petrol or diesel)
  • More environmentally friendly (lack of pollution from fuel)
  • Lack of congestion charges (many cities now have Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ))
  • Reduced noise pollution (EVs are notoriously quiet; more on this below)
  • Free parking in some areas
  • Government funding (some low-emission vehicles are eligible for a Government grant via the seller)
  • Renewable electricity tariffs for those who charge their cars at home

Do electric cars cause more accidents?

There is no set evidence that electric cars cause more accidents, however, there are features on electric vehicles that could make them more likely to be involved in an accident or incident, e.g. lithium batteries leading to a fire or a pedestrian not hearing the EV approach due to its lack of engine noise.

There are also an increasing number of claims from pedestrians being injured in accidents caused by self-driving vehicles.

The dangers of electric cars for pedestrians

Electric vehicles are much quieter than petrol or diesel vehicles because they do not have engines. Instead, they have a motor system that is battery-operated, meaning it doesn’t give out noise emissions. This is particularly prominent at low speeds (below 30mph), meaning that often, pedestrians don’t hear the car approaching, resulting in a collision.

In July 2019, new legislation was introduced, instructing EV manufacturers to install an acoustic sound system for electric and hybrid vehicles to improve road safety. The legislation asks that vehicles produce a sound when they are reversing or driving above 20mph. Whilst this is good news in theory, it does mean that pedestrians are still at risk now from electric cars manufactured before July 2019 without the sound system.

Even with the requirement to produce sound, electric and hybrid vehicles remain quieter than other cars on the road. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, electric and hybrid cars are almost 40% more likely to cause accidents involving pedestrians than conventional vehicles. This is a particular risk factor for blind or partially sighted pedestrians, who rely on sound when navigating our roads.

For those who can see and hear, it may sound obvious not to rely on sound alone when crossing the road, however, on quiet roads or when weaving between parked cars, it is all too easy to make a quick dash across the road without properly looking.

Electric vehicle fires

There have been various news reports recently about electric vehicles supposedly ‘catching fire’. EV car batteries are lithium, which, when ignited, can cause a lot of damage. Because these batteries sit next to the engine coolant, there is a risk that if they leak, the battery could heat up and catch fire quickly. Electrical fires take more time and water to extinguish, making EV fires particularly dangerous for owners of the vehicle and nearby road users.

What to do after an accident involving an electric car

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving an electric vehicle, you may be able to claim compensation. This compensation can help fund future care costs and cover any lost earnings incurred because of your accident.

As with any other road accident or personal injury claim, it is important to get in touch with a specialist personal injury solicitor as soon as you are able. Our expert team can take details of what has happened and advise you on the next steps.

What should you consider when making a personal injury claim involving an electric car?

The process for claiming compensation for an accident involving an electric vehicle is the same as with any other type of vehicle.

However, our personal injury solicitors will look at the accident circumstances and consider who was at fault, including if there are any elements of contributory negligence to assess. In some cases, it is not necessarily the individual (either pedestrian or driver) at fault as there was a manufacturing defect with the car and that caused the accident to happen. We will advise you on this as part of the claim.

Get in touch with our road accident solicitors

If you have been injured in an accident involving an electric or hybrid car, you may be able to claim compensation to help fund the cost of care or to cover any lost earnings.

For a no-obligation chat with a member of our Personal Injury team, call 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form.


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