The transition towards electric-powered vehicles represents a positive step in reducing environmental impact and promoting sustainability. However, it is important to recognize that the size and design of vehicles, such as SUVs and pickup trucks, can still pose significant dangers to the community, irrespective of their power source. While the environmental benefits of electric vehicles are commendable, it is crucial to address the inherent risks associated with larger vehicles, considering their potential impact on traffic safety, pedestrian vulnerability, and overall community well-being.
The dangers of large vehicles
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, bicycle crashes occur at a staggering rate of over 100,000 per year. Even more distressing is the fact that in 2020 alone, 932 cyclists lost their lives in accidents involving motor vehicles, with a significant portion of these tragic fatalities linked to pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs.
Regrettably, when it comes to choosing their next vehicle, only a small number of consumers take into account the risks posed to non-passengers. Additionally, federal officials, driven by the enthusiasm for electrification, have thus far neglected to address the glaring hazards associated with oversized electric vehicles (EVs), let alone propose viable solutions. Unless this perspective shifts, the envisioned electric future of American automobiles could potentially lead to tragic consequences, with significant implications for public safety.
Here are some reasons why large vehicles, including electric ones, can be dangerous:
- Increased mass and momentum. Larger vehicles, by their very nature, tend to have greater mass and momentum compared to smaller vehicles. In the event of a collision, the forces involved are directly proportional to the size and weight of the vehicles. This means that an electric SUV or truck, despite being powered by electricity, can still exert substantial force upon impact, potentially causing severe damage to other vehicles and posing a higher risk of injury to occupants of smaller cars.
- Limited maneuverability. Large vehicles often have limitations when it comes to maneuverability, especially in crowded urban areas or tight spaces. Their size and turning radius can make it more challenging for drivers to navigate through congested traffic, change lanes, or make precise movements. This reduced maneuverability can lead to a higher likelihood of accidents, particularly in situations where quick reactions are required.
- Increased stopping distance. Larger vehicles require longer distances to come to a complete stop due to their greater mass. This can be problematic in scenarios where sudden braking is necessary, such as when encountering unexpected obstacles or pedestrians. The extended stopping distance can increase the risk of rear-end collisions, especially if drivers of smaller vehicles are not able to anticipate the longer braking time required by the larger vehicle.
- Limited visibility. The sheer size of large vehicles, including electric ones, often results in significant blind spots. These blind spots can obstruct the driver’s view of surrounding vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists, making it challenging to detect potential hazards. Despite advances in technology and the inclusion of safety features like cameras and sensors, the size of the vehicle itself can still create significant visibility limitations, increasing the risk of accidents, particularly involving vulnerable road users.
- Pedestrian and cyclist safety. Large vehicles can pose a more substantial threat to pedestrians and cyclists compared to smaller vehicles. The elevated height of these vehicles, often designed for off-road capabilities or enhanced ground clearance, can create serious challenges for visibility and impact mitigation. Pedestrians and cyclists may be less visible to the driver due to the elevated position of the driver’s seat, increasing the risk of accidents, especially in urban environments where interactions between vehicles and vulnerable road users are frequent.
What kinds of injuries can these vehicles cause?
Pickup trucks and SUVs have the potential to cause various types of injuries due to their size, weight, and design characteristics. Here are some common injuries associated with larger trucks and SUVs:
- Impact injuries. The sheer size and weight of larger trucks and SUVs can lead to severe impact injuries in collisions with smaller vehicles. Occupants of smaller vehicles may suffer broken bones, traumatic amputation, internal organ damage, traumatic brain injuries, or spinal cord injuries due to the force of the impact.
- Crush injuries. In accidents involving large trucks or SUVs, there is a higher risk of crush injuries. The size disparity between these vehicles and smaller cars can result in the crushing of the vehicle’s passenger compartment, leading to severe injuries or fatalities.
- Pedestrian and cyclist injuries. Due to their elevated front-end structures, larger trucks and SUVs pose a greater danger to pedestrians and cyclists. In the event of a collision, pedestrians and cyclists may experience significant injuries, including broken bones, head trauma, and internal injuries.
- Rollover accidents. Trucks and SUVs have a higher center of gravity, making them more susceptible to rollover accidents. The rollover motion can cause the vehicle to collide with others or result in objects being thrown from the truck or SUV, leading to injuries such as fractures, head injuries, and lacerations.
It’s important to note that the severity of injuries can vary depending on various factors such as the speed of the vehicles involved, safety features of the vehicles, and whether proper safety measures were followed. However, due to their size and weight, larger trucks and SUVs can cause significantly more catastrophic injuries compared to smaller vehicles in the event of a collision.
While the shift towards electric vehicles offers promising advancements in terms of reducing carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels, it does not take away their inherent danger to other vehicles and pedestrians around them. Addressing these risks requires a multi-faceted approach, including increased awareness among drivers, enhanced safety regulations, and the development of technologies that mitigate the unique challenges posed by large vehicles, ultimately striving for a safer road environment for all road users.
If you or your loved one has been injured in a car accident, the dedicated car accident lawyers at Philbrook Law Office are ready to assist you. Our team is experienced in filing claims against all responsible parties, including drivers, car owners, and car manufacturers. Whether you need to pursue a negligence claim, product liability claim, or wrongful death claim, our attorneys are here to advocate for injury victims and their families. To learn more about our services and to schedule a free consultation, please contact our offices in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA by calling us or filling out our contact form. We also serve the greater Portland area.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.