Editorial: The rush to electric vehicles has its dangers | The Daily Reporter – WI Construction News & Bids

Wisconsin is sitting on the on-ramp in the electric vehicle (EV) rush as the push for internal combustion engines to reduce greenhouse gas emissions heats up.

This has resulted in a concerted effort and state plan to increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations, particularly along designated alternative fuel corridors, including the Interstate system and major highways across the country. state such as highways 51, 53 and 151.

“This really is a great opportunity for Wisconsin to be ready (for electric vehicles),” Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson said this summer, “we can benefit from this environmentally and economically. It can be a win on every level.”

Wisconsin’s draft plan to expand the state’s electric vehicle charging network is being drafted in hopes of gaining federal approval from the Federal Highway Administration, which would raise 78, $7 million in federal funding to support the creation of the network.

Currently, Wisconsin has only 550 charging stations across the state, and many are concentrated in the Milwaukee and Madison areas. And, currently, the state has less than 10,000 electric vehicles, including cars and trucks on the road, or less than 0.1% of all vehicles.

But that’s set to change quickly according to DOT projections that call for 334,000 electric vehicles on the road by the end of the decade. That number could be bolstered by President Joe Biden’s signing of the Cut Inflation Act, which includes a $7,500 incentive on many new electric or plug-in hybrid cars or trucks without restricting the number of credits you can get. a car manufacturer can receive.

But before we rush down this path to “green” the country’s transport fleet, we must ask ourselves the question: “What about the safety of cars and trucks? Isn’t this push towards electric vehicles also an opportunity to make our roads safer too?

In a recent article in Slate magazine, David Zipper, a visiting scholar at Harvard Kenney School’s Tubman Center for State and Local Government, argues that “if the U.S. auto industry maintains its current habits, the nascent transition to electric cars could still make the situation worse. deadly carnage on American roads.

Zipper wrote, “The United States is already a global exception when it comes to road deaths. Unlike virtually every other developing country where these deaths have declined over the past decade, the United States has seen an increase of more than 30%. Today, an American is more than twice as likely as a French or Canadian citizen to die in an accident.

He cites several reasons for this, including that Americans are driving a lot and taking fewer trips on public transit, installing fewer automatic traffic cameras and building more high-speed urban arteries.

But Zipper says there’s another key contributor to the rising number of road deaths in the United States: “the national penchant for tall, heavy pickup trucks and SUVs. The weight of these behemoths endangers other road users in the event of a collision, and their size causes them to strike a person’s torso instead of their legs (it can also make it difficult to see those standing in front of the vehicle).

As proof, Zipper notes that deaths in the United States among people on foot or on bicycles have increased by more than 40% over the past decade.

And this is where the shoe pinches with electric vehicles.

Zipper wrote, “Electrified versions of SUVs and trucks can be even more dangerous. Large vehicles require massive batteries, which add tonnage. The Ford F-150, for example, weighs around 6,500 pounds, about a third more than its gas-powered model. The Hummer EV is even more gigantic, tipping the scales at over 9,000 pounds, with a battery alone heavier than an entire Honda Civic. This extra weight creates a force during a crash, increasing the danger to pedestrians, cyclists and occupants of small cars.

Zipper argues automakers are celebrating electric cars’ ability to go from zero to 60 gears in seconds as a selling point, when instead they should be redesigning their vehicles to make them safer by doing things – like reengineering the Ford F-150 which will no longer need a front gasoline engine and giving the front a slope to improve driver vision and make it more likely that a pedestrian or cyclist will fall off the hood.

He says a “promising model” of change comes from the District of Columbia which has adopted a “creative vehicle registration fee schedule” that charges owners of vehicles weighing more than 6,000 pounds $500, seven times more than a lightweight sedan.

Another option, Zipper says, is to add “pedestrian car value” to federal car crash ratings to estimate the crash risk borne by people outside the vehicle – as is done in Europe, in Australia in Japan.

“So far, however, neither Congress nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has shown a desire to ensure that the electrification of cars leads to safer and greener vehicles. there is a trade-off between efforts to stem climate change and reduce the growing number of road deaths.

We agree with much of what Zipper says. We’re glad Wisconsin is preparing for the upcoming increase in electric vehicles, but road safety and car and truck safety improvements shouldn’t take a back seat to greening Wisconsin’s transportation system. .

The rise of electric vehicles offers the potential to do both.

— Kenosha News

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