Size Matters: Heavier EV trucks, SUVs could present ‘unintended consequences’ for crash severity, U.S. safety board says

Toronto, Ontario — The chair of the U.S.’s National Transportation Safety Board delivered a heavy truth about a trend affecting electric vehicle safety on Wednesday, drawing attention to safety concerns surrounding increasingly heavy electrified trucks and SUVs.

Jennifer Homendy came into work on Wednesday with a list of simple facts that she feels are a cause for concern when it comes to the safety of not just vulnerable road users like cyclists and pedestrians, but the public at large, according to reporting from Reuters.

She pointed out that the Ford F-150 Lightning EV is about 1,000 pounds heavier than its gasoline-powered counterpart, while GMC’s Hummer EV outweighs its original by about a third, coming in at more than 9,000 pounds—as if Hummers needed to be any heavier.

Heavier vehicle weight “has a significant impact on safety for all road users,” Homendy said in her speech.

“We have to be careful that we aren’t also creating unintended consequences: more death on our roads.”

While Ford did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment, General Motors replied, saying “safety is at the cornerstone at everything we do. All GM vehicles are engineered to meet or exceed all applicable motor vehicle safety standards.”

The U.S.’s Environmental Protection Agency reported last month that vehicle weight and horsepower both hit new records in 2021 with average vehicle weight hitting 4,289 pounds in 2021.

This trend falls directly in line with forecasts that predict record truck and SUV sales for 2022.

As well, the U.S.’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has witnessed fatal collisions on American roadways increase 10.5 percent to 42,915 total cases in 2021; a peak previously unseen since 2005.

The largest jump in collision severity came in 2020 when fatal collisions increased by 7 percent that year alone.

Acting NHTSA Administrator Ann Carlson responded to reporters’ questions regarding the effects of vehicle size on road safety, saying the agency was “very concerned” about the “degree to which heavier vehicles contribute to greater fatality rates.”

She also voiced concerns about the common belief among drivers that “bigger is safer.”

“Bigger is safer if you don’t look at the communities surrounding you and you don’t look at the other vehicles on the road,” said Carlson.

“It actually turns out to be a very complex interaction.”


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