All-electric Vehicles (EVs) are becoming more popular on the roads and they will become even more popular as countries start to phase out Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles. Considering the increasing presence of full-electric vehicle models on the roads, it is important to analyze how safe or dangerous EVs are compared to gasoline traditional vehicles, which is why here we analyze this whole subject in detail.
What Are the Main Dangers of Gasoline Vehicles?
Gasoline is the most dangerous component of an ICE vehicle. During accidents involving fire or spontaneous combustion caused by fuel leaks, gasoline burns at 15,000º F, making it extremely dangerous. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), ICE vehicles can catch fire in a ratio of 1,530 in every 100,000.
While gasoline is dangerous due to its flammability and volatility, this is not the most regular harm for gasoline vehicle drivers. Gasoline is irritant to the skin on contact and its fumes are dangerous to the nervous system, but the most common dangers to health come from emissions produced during the combustion process.
When gasoline is burned in the combustion process, Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions are released, including carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons, benzene (C6H6), and formaldehyde (CH2O). These air toxic emissions reduce air quality and have been linked to health effects like neurological damage, cardiovascular problems, respiratory diseases, and damage to the reproductive/immune system. They are also linked to cancer.
What about the Dangers of EVs?
A pure electric vehicle can be dangerous during accidents involving fires or combustion due to thermal runaway since lithium used to create all-electric vehicle batteries can burn at 3,632º F and releases toxic fluoride gas in the process, EV debris can also be reignited as it is towed. EVs are considered safer in this regard since EV fires are less common in a small ratio of 25.1 in 100,000.
Another danger that might be potentially be present in a pure EV is the risk of electrocution, but this is highly unlikely since EVs feature advanced safety electrical systems including breakers and sensors to reduce this possibility. Electrocution risk for EVs is mostly present during a crash since some components might retain high voltage for up to 5 minutes.
The good news for battery electric automobile drivers is that these types of vehicles are not a threat to your health, unlike traditional ICE vehicles. All-electric cars feature zero tailpipe emissions, meaning that they will not release any fumes or GHG emissions while they are being driven, allowing you to entirely drive without reducing air quality.
Comparing ICE Vehicles and EVs in Particularly Dangerous Situations
It is important to analyze how pure-electric cars and ICE vehicles behave during particularly dangerous situations. These include the following:
The average ICE vehicle weighs around 4,094 pounds and produces well-known injuries including traumatism, bone-related injuries, and more. A battery electric car weighs from 4,323 pounds to almost 5,000 pounds, representing more danger during a collision since it carries on more force during a crash, which also represents a higher danger for pedestrians involved in a collision.
During flooding, ICE vehicles do not represent a particular danger unless the gasoline tank is compromised and gas leaks out of it. The electrical system, brakes, and other components might be endangered and should be checked before the vehicle can be driven again.
It is reasonable to think that battery electric vehicles represent an electrocution risk during flooding, but all electrical components are well isolated from the chassis, so this does not represent a problem as long as the vehicle is not damaged. After flooding, you should have the vehicle checked for hidden electrical corrosion and damages since a damaged battery does represent a fire hazard, which is what occurred to several EVs in Florida after the flooding caused by Hurricane Ian.
Vehicle overturning is one of the most dangerous types of accidents occurring on the road, causing considerable damage like lacerations, internal and brain injuries, broken bones, and more. It is considered that vehicle overturn is responsible for one in every five deaths in fatal car accidents.
While heavier vehicles like EVs pose a bigger impact force during the collision, those with a higher center of gravity like SUVs and pickup trucks are in more danger of overturning. ICE vehicles tend to have a higher center of gravity than electric vehicles because the battery of the EV is placed on the bottom side and distributes the weight evenly. This means that a rechargeable electric vehicle, which will have lower center of gravity, will be less prone to overturning. However, similar to gas-powered vehicles, if overturned, there could be a fire hazard depending on the battery condition.
What Assurances Do You Have About the Safety of EVs?
Battery electric propulsion vehicle automakers ensure the safety of passengers by installing different safety measures. One of the most important ones is the division of EV batteries into small cells and isolation using firewalls. Electric vehicle batteries pass rigorous safety verifications that include crash tests, watertight tests, immersions tests, and combustion tests.
Some EVs like Tesla ensure a rigorous vehicle design with all types of safety considerations. Some of these include impact protection systems, structural integrity, safety design for the battery pack, crumple zones, and advanced airbags. Battery electric vehicles also include all other types of safety measures to ensure safer driving and avoidance of accidents.
As technology advances, battery vehicle models and their battery packs become even safer. For instance, the newly released Blade Battery manufactured by BYD takes battery safety to a new level by ensuring batteries pass a nail penetration test, making them extremely reliable during a collision.
What Do Statistics Say About the Danger for EVs vs. Combustion Vehicles?
While each type of vehicle features its safety risks, the statistics say that ICE vehicles are much more dangerous than a battery-only electric vehicle. The NTSB showed that ICE vehicles catch fire in a ratio of 1,530 in every 100,000, while EVs only do so in a ratio of 25.1 in every 100,000. This means that ICE vehicles have a 1.53% danger of catching fire while EVs only have a 0.025% danger.
The bad news is that EVs also have their downside. A study performed in Europe by insurer AXA illustrates that EVs are involved in around 50% more car accidents than ICE vehicles. This is probably caused by the heavier weight of these types of vehicles and the increased acceleration.
Verdict: Which Vehicle Is Safer, ICE or EVs?
Each type of vehicle has its dangers. An ICE vehicle has a higher chance of catching fire than a battery-powered electric vehicle, which is usually caused by gasoline leaking in a gasoline vehicle and a compromised battery in an EV. Surprisingly, an electric battery vehicle features a low danger of electrocution risk thanks to the safety measures installed by automakers.
In car crashes and collisions, a full electric vehicle can be just as dangerous or even more so than a typical gasoline vehicle, especially due to the additional weight. The increased acceleration for a full-electric vehicle also may add up to this cause.
No matter the type of vehicle, it is always recommended to drive safely and respect traffic laws at all times. This will help you ensure you reduce the probability of accidents to a minimum.