The auto industry is going through a significant transformation with the rapid adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), praised for their environmental benefits and cutting-edge technology. At the center of this shift are California politicians who see EVs as ways to revolutionize the transportation industry. Yet, the transition is filled with challenges concerning road safety infrastructure.
The Institute for Energy Research pointed to a recent study by the University of Nebraska that highlighted the impact of the increased weight of electric vehicles and its implications for current road safety measures, especially concerning steel highway guardrails.
Electric vehicles, like the Ford’s F-150 Lightning and the Mustang Mach E, weigh up to 50% more than their gasoline-powered counterparts, primarily because of their substantial batteries.
The substantial battery weight challenges the design and value of existing guardrail systems, which were not engineered to withstand the impact of an electric vehicle.
This concern was highlighted by a crash test at Nebraska’s Midwest Roadside Safety Facility, wherein a 4-ton Rivian R1T electric pickup truck easily breached a standard metal guardrail, only stopping after colliding with a concrete barrier.
This test highlighted the failure of current safety barriers to contain the heavier electric vehicles but also showed the urgent need for a comprehensive redesign of roadside safety infrastructure to accommodate the evolving EV market.
In addition, the National Transportation Safety Board raised alarms over the heightened risks that heavier EVs pose in collisions to occupants of lighter vehicles. This concern amplified the infrastructure complications associated with the transition to electric cars.
Urban areas, which see a higher concentration of EVs, face the challenge of parking structures and residential streets that need to be equipped to support the increased weight of these vehicles, leading to accelerated wear and tear on both public infrastructure and private property.
The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed increasing fuel economy standards to make two-thirds of new auto sales electric by 2035. However, this ambitious push towards electrification overlooks the critical road safety measures and infrastructure upgrades necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of all road users.
With over two decades of political, legislative, and media experience, Hector M. Barajas works with Fortune 100 companies, trade associations, local governments, political candidates, members of Congress, state lawmakers, and non-profit organizations. The Hearst Corporation has recognized Hector as one of the 20 Latino Political Stars nationwide, and Campaigns and Elections magazine named him one of the Top 50 Influencers in the United States. Hector also serves as an on-air analyst for Univision and Telemundo while regularly commentating on several English-language publications and media outlets.