The basic elements of road safety have remained remarkably similar for a century: follow all signs and signals, drive at a reasonable speed for conditions, ensure proper restraint of children, do not drive impaired, etc.
But with technical development also comes changes in how we think about vehicle safety. For example, seatbelts were much less used (and installed) in the past than they are today. Air bags were certainly not included in the first cars that were manufactured.
One of the latest developments in the automotive industry that will affect how we travel on the nations’ roads is the electric car. Concerns over the use of gasoline have made electric cars a booming market-the wave is about to build even more as automobile manufacturers are making a large push to encourage consumers to buy the new cars. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association projects that more than a million of these vehicles will be on the road in five years, by 2015. With the expected surge in use, it is important to understand the possible hazards posed by these vehicles when they become involved in auto accidents.
Specifically, while traditional cars often pose fire risks following crashes because of gasoline spillage, these new non-gas vehicles will present electric shock problems. WMAQ TV reports that Chicago firefighters are already being trained on the ways to handle these vehicles when responding to car emergencies. Firefighters must be trained in the proper way to disengage electrical power systems to alleviate the risk of shock after a crash.
Also, the high-strength steel used in many of these new vehicles cannot be cut open with traditional saws. Even then, with a several hundred volt charges surging through the car, an ill-places cut in the metal could shock the responder. Therefore, if attempting to rescue a passenger trapped in a car, firefighters must be trained on the exact location to cut to get through the metal.
The Chicago Fire commissioner noted, “Every year they are coming out with something new. Firefighters have to stay on top of new technologies to save civilian’s lives, but it can also save ours.”
Our Chicago car accident attorneys at Levin & Perconti applaud our city’s emergency personnel who save lives every day following tragic vehicle accidents on our roadways. We also urge all Chicagoans to understand the unique risks that new vehicles may pose and take appropriate steps to guard against the dangers.