Toward the end of 2022, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) did a simulation to assess whether its crash test equipment could handle a large and heavy electric vehicle. Fortunately, the equipment fared just fine, but the testing stirred up conversations about future safety concerns thanks to the EVs' heavy battery packs.
The IIHS used an old gas-powered Ford F-150 pickup truck and loaded it up until it weighed a whopping 9,500 pounds. The heavy pickup was then put through the organization's series of crash tests. While the tests were successful and the equipment unharmed, IIHS Vice President Raul Arbelaez was left wondering what strategies could be employed to increase safety with such heavy cars on the road.
Arbelaez is concerned about the weight of electric cars as compared to their non-electric counterparts. In a crash, two such vehicles' weight disparity could be a serious issue. With more of these heavy EVs taking to our roads, he's also worried about pedestrians and cyclists. To be clear, Arbelaez isn't anti-EV, he's simply pro-safety, which means he's doing his job. According to Autoblog, the IIHS vice president wrote:
"We don’t need to put the brakes on electrification — there are good reasons for it — and we’re not doomed to reverse all the safety gains of recent decades. But the development will require some new thinking about the kinds of vehicles we want on our roads."
Part of Arbelaez's job, and that of the IIHS as a whole, is to increase vehicle safety and safety on our roads in general. While there are certainly many folks suggesting it, eliminating EVs is not the answer. Rather, Arbelaez suggests some preliminary strategies that may help going forward.
The IIHS VP says that when millions of new EVs weigh much more than a Chevrolet Suburban and also have loads of power, they probably also need to have much more robust braking systems and crash-avoidance technologies. He also ponders how "additional crash structures" could be manufactured into EVs to help protect lighter cars and people.
While many folks may agree with such suggestions from Arbelaez, he also writes:
"States and local governments should consider lowering speed limits, factoring in the increased danger from weight disparities, and backing them up with increased enforcement."
Clearly, making the improvements to the vehicles themselves would be something that would cause much less stir than changing the laws on our roadways. Arbelaez adds that perhaps we don't need such long-range EVs with such heavy batteries, though we would need more widespread and improved charging infrastructure.
What do you think? Leave us your comments below.