Are EVs more dangerous on the road?
According to a report in the Netherlands (EV rapport 2020), electric vehicles are far more dangerous in everyday traffic. The possibility for someone to get hurt is three times as high with an electric car, the report claims. Unfortunately for the authors, further reading leads to a lot of question marks and very few answers…
The report has been written by Arno Onink (advice agency Trend-Rx) and Ric Van Vugt (networking organization Automotive Insiders). It is based on the research figures of the Dutch foundation for scientific research on traffic safety (SWOV).
No regress anymore
The report can be seen as the result of a concern emitted by the SWOV that the death toll and the number of heavily injured people due to traffic are not diminishing anymore in the Netherlands.
According to SWOV, there are different reasons for this. The traffic is getting more intense, the Dutch population is getting older, and more people are occupied with their smartphones while participating in traffic. The number of accidents involving cars and bikes is increasing.
Although the fact that the growth of the electric car park has not been taken into account in the SWOV figures, researchers Onink and Van Vugt expect the number of heavily injured people (21 700 in 2018) to increase by 1 400 within the next ten years.
EV is the culprit
In 2019, the number of EVs in the Netherlands increased by 43% to 203 000 in total. In the entire car park, this represents 1,3%. Nevertheless, both researchers claim that the increase in injuries is mostly due to the electric car.
They see several reasons for this: first of all, EVs are heavier because of the battery weight, increasing the risk of injuries when colliding with lighter traffic participants. EVs are also very fast accelerating, something underestimated by their owners.
EVs produce less noise, so other traffic participants, like pedestrians or cyclists, don’t hear them coming. According to the researchers, the EU obligation for EVs to produce noise (Acoustic Vehicle Alerting System mandatory since last year) is inefficient. “Someone who’s wearing a headphone doesn’t hear the signal.”
Apart from the fact that Dutch insurance and leasing companies have registered an increase in (light) damage cases linked to EVs, there’s no evidence yet that those EVs are more dangerous on the road.
The authors of the report are omitting different other possible reasons for stagnation or an increase in traffic accidents. We enumerate some of them.
First of all, the impressive increase in SUVs on the road, also very heavy, and due to their bulk a far greater danger for pedestrians and cyclists.
Secondly, the increase in the number of bicycle users unavoidably leads to more accidents. What’s more, if they use headphones, they can’t hear (and are not aware of) other traffic in general, not only EVs. The use of headphones is dangerous, not the electric vehicle.
Thirdly, studies show that the driving style most users of EVs are adapting is less hectic and more temperate because they want to save as much electric energy as possible, and by doing so, lengthen the range.
We have great doubts about the ‘research’ of the above-mentioned authors. Apparently, there’s a need for unnecessary EV bashing appearing from time to time.
Earlier on, for example, there has been great criticism about fine-dust pollution by EVs during braking because of their weight penalty. What those ‘researchers’ forgot is that EVs driven sensibly are much less braking than normal cars. They mostly slow down by recuperating electric energy.
Of course, there are still a lot of problems to solve concerning EVs. The use of some rare earth metals for the batteries, for example, and the way they are mined. The fact that they need big battery packs because of – often unnecessary – range anxiety.
The fact that there are practically no small, affordable EVs, while the electric motor is meant for it. The problems that arise when an EV catches fire. The fact that driving an EV needs a charging discipline.
Problems enough, solutions have to be found, behaviors have to be changed. That the future of transportation will be partly electric is inevitable. That we will have to learn how to handle this is also necessary. But what we don’t need is ‘research’ that is based on nothing.