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Electric cars pose additional hazards at accident scenes

Immediately after an accident, it is important to secure the scene to prevent additional injuries or fatalities. Electrocution, explosions, fires, blown airbags and other reactions caused by a compromised vehicle can seriously injure roadside assistance crews, bystanders, passengers, paramedics and law enforcement officials. According to recent reports, even though electric or hybrid vehicles are good for the environment, they may pose additional hazards when comproised after a car accident.

The battery packs in electric cars carry sensitive components which can cause explosions, fire, and electrocution after an accident. The new vehicles are characterized by high voltage electric propulsion systems which are different than those found in conventional vehicles. In the event of an accident, the systems and equipment require special care.

Nationwide, expert collision investigators, as well as law enforcement agencies, are developing a special knowledge in the area of hybrid vehicle and electric car accident scenes. New training, developed alongside the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), is aimed at preventing injury or fatality at accidents involving electric and hybrid vehicles. Originally, the NFPA developed the training for firefighters, but then found that police officers also needed the training when responding to crash scenes and during subsequent investigation of the vehicle and cause of accident.

Officers as well as investigators are learning the new technology and the special features of the vehicles to quickly secure an accident scene and prevent additional injuries or fatalities. If you are in an accident, remember to protect yourself first and get away from a vehicle as soon as possible. If you are attempting to help a victim of an accident, remember that there may be additional risk of fire, explosion or electrocution, especially if the accident involves an electric or hybrid car.

Source: Earth Techling, "EV Accident Handling Training a Focus of New York Police," Nino Marchetti, Oct. 26, 2012

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