Electric Vehicle Safety for Novices

Electric Vehicle Safety vs Conventional Fuel Vehicles in Collisions

Electric vehicle safety concerns have not had near the publicity that the vehicles and initiatives have received.  Organizations like NFPA and NAHRS provide proactive training for first responders and early responders on how to identify hybrids and EVs, and prepare them to deal with the potential dangers inherent in rescue operations.  Some of us, including the writer of this post, never gave EV safety a second thought until now.  With the numbers of Hybrids and EVs on the road increasing as they are, it seems prudent to share this information on a broader scale.

The obvious reason a different approach must be taken in dealing with emergencies involving EVs is that they contain high voltage systems.  If you ever took a shock from your conventional vehicle battery you surely experienced some discomfort.  That was 12 volts DC at 2 to 10 amps.  According to allaboutcircuits.com, “common nominal pack voltages in current vehicles range from 100V-200V for hybrid/plug-in hybrid vehicles and 400V to 800V and higher for electric-only vehicles.”  That’s a lot more juice!

Dos and Don’ts

Whether attending to someone with a medical emergency in the vehicle, trying to free someone trapped in the vehicle, or putting out a fire in a burning vehicle, the rescue approach is different when there are high voltage components to consider.  Before taking action you must identify if a vehicle is a hybrid, full electric vehicle, or an internal combustion engine.  If it is an EV, Hybrid, or even CNG, alternative vehicle safety protocols must be followed.  The first thing you need to determine is if the vehicle is running.  Electric vehicles run silent so it is easy to overlook a vehicle still running that could move and cause injury.  Next, the battery should be disconnected according to the vehicle manufacturer’s guidelines.

Another important piece of information to know is the battery location.  If a battery has been exposed to heat, that creates an additional hazard.  Cooling the battery with water is a good idea, but never cut, crush, or open a high voltage battery, cable, or peripheral component.  Popping noises from the battery location are a good indicator that it is hot, as well as smoke or steam.

If you have access to running water, a hot battery should be cooled by running water over the battery case or compartment.  Water has been determined to be the best way to cool or extinguish a lithium-ion battery.  If the battery case has already been opened by impact or penetration, applying water directly to the battery is even more effective.  Other suffocating or extinguishing agents like your handy fire extinguisher will not be effective.  Keep in mind that emergency responders are trained to monitor the battery for reoccurrence of heat for no less than 45 minutes before releasing a vehicle to secondary responders, so if you end up being the one manning the hose, and conditions are safe enough, continue the cooling efforts until the pros arrive. Download the free Emergency Field Guide for alternative fuel vehicles from NFPA.org or contact your local fire department for training and information if you operate electric vehicles.

More Videos on Electric Vehicle Safety and Fire Hazards

Electric Vehicle Battery Location

EV battery locations vary by vehicle make and model.  In most hybrids it is behind or under the rear seat, or in the trunk.  In fully electric vehicles it may be under the floorboard or in the transmission hump.  If you see damage to the vehicle or active fire in or near those locations, best to wait for the pros who have been trained for these situations and have the thermal imaging and protective gear to handle them.

Key Take-aways for EV Safety

We cannot stress enough that alternative fuel vehicles vary widely in the technologies used.  Each technology presents a unique hazard profile.  Buildup of fumes that are harmful or flammable, potential for delayed fire, and extremely high voltages are the primary dangers.  If you are not sure what to do, call 911 for help, and wait.

Most important, if you are first on the scene of a collision or other vehicle emergency, before you jump in to assist, stop and assess the situation for electric vehicle safety.  Treating an EV in the same manner you would a conventional gasoline or diesel fueled vehicle can do more harm than good and ultimately result in serious injury.

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Move Over Laws

Move Over Laws in all 50 States

According to the USDOT blog, all 50 states have now enacted move over laws.  There are some significant differences between states, but the basic premise requires changing lanes or slowing down when approaching vehicles stopped on the roadside.

ResponderSafety.com has reported that two emergency responders per day, on average, are struck by passing vehicles.  Move over laws were enacted to provide a cushion of safety for law enforcement officers, workers, and others that may be stopped on a busy road or highway.  The earliest versions of these laws were often  vague and unenforceable. More recent efforts between cooperating agencies have provided model language that is clearer and is being adopted more broadly.

Roadside Accident w-Emergency Responders

Primary Differences

The move over laws across the 50 states have much more in common than not.  The primary differences are the definitions each state has for an “emergency scene”.  In many states they apply only to emergency vehicles.  In other states they apply to emergency vehicles and towing vehicles.  Alaska includes animal control vehicles in their definition and South Carolina has the broadest definition.  Their text includes “a location designated by the potential need to provide emergency medical care and is identified by emergency vehicles with flashing lights, rescue equipment, or emergency personnel on the scene”.

Based on the South Carolina definition, one can infer that if a common citizen stops to assist another vehicle pulled off the road, there could be “potential” need for emergency medical care making even that a qualifying emergency scene that the law would apply to.

What Move Over Laws Have in Common

All of the move over laws place responsibility on the driver of a motor vehicle to take specific action when approaching an emergency scene.  The driver must change lanes if the adjacent lane is available and the maneuver can be performed safely.  Drivers must also slow down and control their vehicle to avoid collision.  The image below from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website tells Florida drivers exactly what they need to know.

FLHSMV Move Over Law

I recall, many years ago, being at the side of the road on Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  I was driving a friend’s pickup truck when the engine seized because the oil was too low.  Stuck on a curve with 2 lanes of traffic moving fast in both directions, and a concrete barrier between, I was alone and unprepared.  There was very little room at the roadside and no way to move the truck further off the road.  I waited in the truck hoping someone would stop to help.  It was unnerving that drivers did not slow down, and absolutely frightening when one drove by so close he clipped off the side view mirror and sent it tumbling down the hill.

Common sense and human decency dictate if someone… if anyone is in distress at the side of the road, whether that distress is a heart attack or a flat tire, give them and anyone who is assisting them plenty of room.  Move over laws ensure a higher level of protection for public servants and a consequence for violators.  Bottom line, they encourage us all to do what we know is the right thing.

Driver Training

Play this short video to remind your drivers and employees of the Move Over Law.

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Tell Us Your Story!

We Hear a Lot of Great Success Stories

Fleetistics is sponsoring a contest for a chance to win an Amazon gift card when you tell us your story.  We hear lots of great stories from our customers, all kinds of stories actually.  Things like amazingly quick recovery of a stolen vehicle, litigation avoided after a collision based on telematics data, and one customer reported discovering that his clients with the prettiest receptionists always received much longer stops than others.

Tell Us Your Story

With that in mind, tell us your story!

We want to hear your GPS tracking success story.  Your experience could be exactly what someone else needs to know, so tell us your story for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card.  Even better, have your story featured on Fleetistics’ Blog with a link back to your business. Only Fleetistics’ customers are eligible to win.

Amazon Gift Card

Put those writing skills to work and tell us your story today.  Email it to contact@fleetistics.com.  Deadline for submissions is January 29, 2021.  We will select a winner from the submissions we receive to tell your story in an upcoming blog post.  Your name, logo, and a link to your website (with your approval) will be posted as well.  We look forward to hearing about your success with telematics and sharing your story with others.  So send us your story today!

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Distracted Driving Awareness Month – October 2020

Distracted Driving Car Accident Highway
Normally held in April, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year October will be observed as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  This annual promotion sponsored by the National Safety Council brings awareness to a primary cause of preventable injury and death on the roads, distracted driving.

The NSC website reports that on a typical day, more than 700 people are injured because of driver distractions.  This includes, but is not limited to phone calls, text messages, and entertainment system adjustments.  Likewise, the CDC reports that each day in the United States, approximately 9 people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.

Distracted Driving Affects Everyone

While cell phones are a primary distraction we can all relate to, it is only one of many things that contribute to the preventable collisions noted above.  If you take your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, or your mind off of your driving for any reason, you place yourself and others at risk.
The National Safety Council focuses on eliminating the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths.  As part of the October campaign, NSC is providing free downloadable materials to encourage companies to create distracted driving prevention programs.

What can you do to prevent Distracted Driving?

You can commit to driving distraction free by taking the NSC Just Drive pledge.  Thanks to a partnership with The Zebra, the nation’s leading insurance comparison site, NSC will receive a donation of $1 for every pledge taken and match 100% of every donation made, up to $5,000, today through Nov. 6.

First, consider taking the pledge or making a donation.  Also, consider promoting the pledge to your company drivers and their families.  Ultimately, if we all do just a little, many lives can be saved.  

Just Drive - Distracted Driving Awareness Month
The theme is Just Drive.  Simple and to the point, it is a great reminder to us all to put down the phone, stop fiddling with the equalizer, and just drive.
Fleetistics is a leading provider of technology to identify and mitigate distracted driving.
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Workplace Safety – Help With Managing COVID 19 Risk

Workplace Safety is Your Responsibility

Workplace safety is a responsibility employers cannot take lightly.  Whether you have decided it’s time to reopen your business, or just move from working in isolation back to some measure of how it used to be, you need to have a clear plan in place.  It is your job to assure the work environment is safe for both customers and employees.
Workplace Safety

Relying on safety experts will improve the overall safety plan and may reduce liability in the event of a safety violation injury.  Unfortunately, we have learned by watching the news over the past few months that not even the experts agree all the time. So where can an employer go for sound advice?  Thankfully, the National Safety Council has addressed this head on with a new free program, “Safe Actions for Employee Returns” or SAFER.

NSC and the SAFER Program Tools for Workplace Safety

The National Safety Council (NSC) is America’s leading nonprofit safety advocate.  They are probably most well known for their Defensive Driving Course, required in many states to reinstate a driver’s license after multiple driving violations.  Their primary focus is eliminating the leading causes of preventable injuries and deaths in various environments.  Ultimately that includes injury and death due to workplace safety issues.

The SAFER program, assembled and updated by a task force comprised of large and small Fortune 500 companies, provides guidance for safely reopening the workplace.  Taskforce members include nonprofits, legal experts, public health professionals, medical professionals, and government agency representatives.  They make recommendations based on best practices and proven workplace safety strategies.

The SAFER program provides free resources and tools you can download.  As the body of knowledge about the Covid-19 virus grows and changes, the resources are updated.  Even better, you can register to be notified by email when new resources become available.  This is great way to ensure your workplace safety policies remain relevant and up to date.

What Resources are Available?

Resources are available to assess vulnerability, survey employees, and educate using their recorded webinars.  Moreover, you can download PowerPoint presentations to use at your staff meetings and attend online workshops.  NSC also maintains a page that details the federal guidelines and has useful links to resources like a COVID Tracer spreadsheet.  A set of 4 posters designed to keep safe practices on everyone’s mind is the only item we found with a modest price tag.  

The breadth of subject matter is impressive!  The information provided covers topics including creating an action plan, office operations, managing anxiety, entrance screening, and what to do if you anyone in your workplace has a confirmed case of COVID 19.

Well Done!

Fleetistics is an authorized training center for the NSC Defensive Driving Course. We applaud the National Safety Council for its leadership in helping America safely return to work!
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