Lorraine complains: The high cost of electric vehicles for road safety | SaltFil

We need to talk about what the switch from traditional internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles will mean for vulnerable road users – and indeed for other drivers.

There is a double in sight and we do not talk about it enough.

As most drivers acclimate to the global shift to electric vehicles, the learning curve will be less seamless for pedestrians and cyclists. In 2009, NHTSA published a study warning that pedestrians were involved in collisions with hybrid electric vehicles at a rate of two to one at low speeds compared to traditional vehicles. When a vehicle is nearly silent (as hybrid vehicles are at slower speeds), pedestrians, cyclists and the visually impaired lose a crucial sensory cue that a car is close to them, especially if it is coming from behind.

In 2018, The Guardian reported on the growing problem as safety advocates pressed the UK and European Union to adopt Acoustic Vehicle Alerting Systems (AVAS) as standard on all electric and hybrid vehicles. , which they are now since July 2021. While some manufacturers are already adopting AVAS, the Canadian government has declared that they will be mandatory by 2023.

“All hybrid and electric passenger cars, multi-purpose passenger cars, trucks, buses and low-speed vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 4,536 kg or less would be required to comply with the proposed regulations on minimal noise,” says Transport Canada. So far, no one is talking about forcing retrofits on vehicles that predate any of these goals, even though automakers are getting creative with the sounds they implement. This means a long overlap of vehicles sporting the detection sounds with those that don’t.

Road deaths are usually the result of more than one factor. Speeding, impaired driving and distraction are the triumvirates of doom, but the changes to come in what we drive will soon have a growing impact.

If you’ve ever seen a large diesel engine idling near your home (cough, Ottawa, cough), you know why the silence of an electric motor is welcome. Less noise pollution is a good thing. But, again, those who speak for all road users — not just those who sit comfortably in a car — are sounding the alarm that the carnage on our streets is getting worse.

NHTSA recently released a report that found pedestrian fatalities for 2021 in the United States increased 13% from the previous year. The trend is similar in Canada, although our statistics are always off by a few years.

Road deaths are usually the result of more than one factor. Speeding, impaired driving and distraction are the triumvirates of doom, but the changes to come in what we drive will soon have a growing impact.

However, with manufacturers tackling sound issues, there’s something more concerning on the horizon. When Ford brought out its all-electric Lightning pickup, it was the weight of the thing that stunned many of us – around 3,000 kg (6,500 lb). While trying to digest this, GM announced that its electric Hummer would weigh over 4,000 kg (9,000 lb).

You might think you know the size of these vehicles at a glance, but those hunches are based on familiarity with their lighter internal combustion engine counterparts. We’re going to have to get used to a whole new reckoning with electric vehicles and the alarms are already ringing that it’s pedestrians who will be most at risk.

Initially, it was the size of conventional SUVs and pickup trucks that drove fatalities up, but those early studies didn’t even take into account the evolution of electric vehicles. Remember that more mass means more energy at the same speed and more damage potential.

The weight of these is going to necessitate a change in the way we drive, especially in urban cores. For vulnerable road users, it will become crucial for municipalities to bring the death toll, which is already worsening daily, under control.

A recent article by Jalopnik didn’t mince words, if a little hyperbolically: “Heavy electric vehicles will kill us all,” he said, and compared certain stopping distances to speeds of highway. A 2011 study from the University of California, also cited by Bloomberg, originally looked at the rise of large internal combustion engine vehicles and the impact they would have on road deaths. roads.

“[B]Being struck by a vehicle weighing 1,000 pounds more results in a 47% increase in the base probability of death. The estimation results further suggest that the risk of death is even higher if the striking vehicle is a light truck (SUV, pickup truck or minivan). »

From Jalopnik: “A lot of heavier things have horrible braking distances. Car and Driver tested the Lucid Air and recorded a 163ft stop from 70 [mph]; an Audi RS e-tron needed almost 160 feet. Motor Trend recently tested the Hummer EV and while its 137-foot stopping distance from 60 was better than those cars, it was still worse than a three-foot GMC Sierra 3500.

A decade after the study drawing attention to the impact heavy vehicles will have on fatalities, the author who hadn’t paid too much attention to the small electric vehicles that were emerging on the market recognized how quickly things have changed.

“There could be a window where it’s pretty dangerous to drive (small gas-powered vehicles) and have multiple-vehicle crashes.”

We already know what a huge SUV can do to a sedan; now makes the SUV several thousand pounds heavier.

A comparative look at stopping distances in Bloomberg via Consumer Reports data shows that “automakers are fitting many of these vehicles with larger brakes, for example. Second, electric vehicles have regenerative braking systems in which electric motors slightly slow the machine while generating power. Brembo, which supplies many brakes to automakers, says regenerative systems often fully offset the extra weight, which is typically at least 10% heavier than a similarly-burning vehicle.

Good braking is a plus, but we always rely on drivers – no matter what they’re driving – not to speed up, get impaired or distracted.

The emergence of super-electrics, the behemoths on which the industry relies to attract a large part of buyers to the electric field, will come at a high cost.


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