Electric Cars and Safety Concerns 1

Despite some recent worrying stories about lithium-ion battery fires, electric cars will soon be commonplace in the UK. Britain is due to ban the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars from 2040, amid fears that rising levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) are damaging public health.

Tesla has recently been in the headlines after their Li-ion batteries have been suspected of causing or exacerbating fires after car crashes. The other risks are the excessive heat and duration when the batteries burn, and the toxicity of the fumes they emit. Fire departments have had to contact Tesla for advice while actively fighting fires.

As with all emerging technologies, electric car developers will be working hard to resolve issues and strive to ensure consumer safety.

Electric Cars and Safety Concerns 3

However, given the rising number of electric cars, there is another looming Health and Safety risk that threatens at a more widespread level – unsuspecting pedestrians falling over trailing extension cables.

In Slaithwaite, Huddersfield, photos were taken of multiple extension cables laid along a footpath, which were necessary for a resident to charge his car. Due to a lack of a private driveway, or the inability to park directly outside his house, the cables trailed some 10 metres along the pathway.

The resident (who preferred to remain un-named) said that he usually placed a yellow warning triangle and anti-trip mats. The photographs that were taken don’t show these in use on this occasion, however.

He wished to point out that electric cables along a pathway are no different from the risks posed by a hosepipe or vacuum cleaner cable, when residents clean their cars at the roadside.

He may have a point – up to a point. At some time in the future, Councils (or someone) will be obliged to place charging points along highways and find safe methods of charging vehicles avoiding trailing cables. In the meantime, as we still rely on petrol stations while the number of electric cars increases, the tripping hazard risk of trailing cables on pavements will remain.