Are Highway Guardrails Safe For EV’s?

A new study from the University of Nebraska concluded that nation’s guardrails are unable to handle electric vehicles (EV’s) which weigh thousands of pounds more than the average gas-powered sedan. The university’s “Midwest Roadside Safety Facility” conducted test crashes with an electric-powered pickup truck and a Tesla sedan by sending them into guardrails similar to those seen on U.S. roads and highways. The results of the tests found that our guardrails were not made to handle vehicles greater than 5,000 pounds. 

 The National Transportation Safety Board previously expressed concern last year about the safety risks that heavy electric vehicles pose if they collide with lighter vehicles gas powered vehicles. The safety board concluded that EV’s provide better protection for their occupants but can pose a more serious threat to those riding in gas powered vehicles due to the extreme weight discrepency. Electric vehicles typically weigh 20% to 50% more than gas-powered vehicles and have lower centers of gravity.

So the question that needs to be asked is what can be done to help prevent the potential dangers of EVs crashing into guardrails. The study recommends that there needs to be an “intensive collaboration”between auto makers and the U.S. government and safety boards to develop a plan to make the guardrails stronger and safer for all vehicles on the road. This seems like it would be a huge and very expensive undertaking to start replacing guardrails all over the country. I do not believe this was earmarked in the 2022 bipartisan infrastructure legislation. I think it would be a good idea for the Department of Transportation to look into what it would cost to replace or reinforce existing guardrails, especially in parts of the most dangerous (and steep) roads. I look forward to hearing what the Department of Transportation’s response to this study will be.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a Chicago car accident or Illinois traffic accident, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron J. Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076.