The head of the National Transportation Safety Board expressed concerns regarding the safety risks that heavy electric vehicles pose if they collide with lighter vehicles.
Jennifer Homendy raised the issue in a Washington speech addressed to the Transportation Research Board. She noted that an eclectic GMC Hummer weighs 9,000 pounds and with a battery pack alone being 2,900 pounds, that is approximately the weight of a Honda Civic.
“I’m concerned about the increased risk of severe injury and death for all road users from heavier curb weights and increasing size, power, and performance of vehicles on our roads, including electric vehicles,” Homendy said.
EVs often carry more weight due to the oversized mass of their batteries. Batteries for EVs weigh thousands of pounds to reach a range of 300 or more miles per charge.
Some battery chemistries under development may be able to store more energy in a smaller volume. However, for the time being, EVs and smaller internal combustion vehicles have different weights. Additionally, EVs provide immediate power to their wheels, which allows them to accelerate more quickly than the majority of gas-powered cars, trucks, and SUVs.
Homendy expressed her support for the Biden administration’s plans to gradually phase out vehicle carbon emissions in an effort to address the climate crisis. But she added that the proliferation of EVs on roads and highways poses a safety risk that she is still concerned about.
“We must take care to avoid having unintended consequences, such as increasing the number of fatalities on our roads,” she adds. Safety shouldn’t be ignored, especially when it comes to new transportation policies and new technologies.
The NTSB examines traffic collisions but lacks the power to enact laws. This power mostly belongs to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for vehicles.
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