Electric vehicles, including semi-trucks, carry unique and severe risks when involved in a crash. Call our Charleston, SC injury lawyers for a free consultation after a serious injury.

How EV Trucks Are Changing the Landscape of Commercial Transportation Accidents

Electric vehicle technology isn’t limited to just passenger vehicles. Experiments in creating hybrid and fully electric commercial trucks are underway as well. With Tesla’s recent announcement of a fully electric semi-truck, a future in which roads are filled with EV trucks may be just around the corner.

While EV trucks may offer environmental and other benefits, they also pose risks to truck drivers and others on the road. Addressing these risks will require changes in how drivers approach trucking, how trucking companies manage their fleets, and how other drivers share the road with EV commercial trucks.

How Common Are Electric or Hybrid Commercial Trucks? 

Currently, the vast majority of full-sized semi trucks on the road run on diesel. The travel range remains a challenge for commercial EV trucks. While the average semi can travel up to 2,000 miles before refueling, a comparable electric semi can travel only 250 to 500 miles before requiring a recharge. 

Recharging also takes more time than fueling a truck with diesel. An EV truck may require one to three hours on a charger to fully recharge, while a stop to fill a diesel-powered truck’s gas tanks takes less time. 

Nevertheless, several truck manufacturers are experimenting with fully electric commercial trucks, both semis and smaller delivery trucks. Companies like Walmart and Anheuser-Busch have begun deploying these electric trucks in their commercial fleets in various parts of the United States. 

Commercial EVs are more common on regional and urban routes, where trucks make more stops but travel fewer total miles to complete deliveries. These routes allow commercial trucks to use smaller batteries, take advantage of regenerative braking that helps keep batteries charged, and reduce noise and air pollution in densely-populated areas. 

Risks of a Collision With an EV Commercial Truck 

As with EV passenger vehicles, the risks involved in colliding with an EV commercial truck are somewhat different than the risks of an accident with a traditional gas-powered commercial truck. Major risks include:

  • Acceleration and braking. Tesla’s EV semi offers zero to 60 mph acceleration in just twenty seconds一far faster than diesel-powered competitors. Controlling this acceleration and stopping the truck quickly in an emergency will require drivers to adapt to the truck’s new functions.
  • Greater force in a crash. An EV truck weighs more than a similarly-sized diesel truck, even when both trucks are empty. This additional weight comes from the EV truck’s heavy batteries. It can generate greater forces in a crash, leading to additional injuries. 
  • Fire, electrocution, and burn risks. Thermal, chemical, and electrical burns are possible in any collision. In an EV crash, the vehicle’s batteries increase this risk compared to diesel or unleaded gas tanks.

As EV trucks become more common, other challenges will arise as well. One study of electric charging station needs estimates that by 2030, highway charging stations will need as much power as a professional sports stadium. If the station accommodates EV semi trucks, its power requirements will be even higher一perhaps as much as a small town. 

How EV Trucks Can Make a Truck Crash Injury Claim More Complex

Truck crash claims are typically complicated. In any truck crash, the negligence of several parties may have contributed to the accident. For instance:

  • A truck driver’s negligence may have caused or contributed to a collision.
  • A trucking company responsible for hiring a driver, assigning routes, or maintaining a truck in good repair may have failed to use due care in any of these tasks, resulting in injury.
  • A company responsible for loading cargo may have loaded a trailer improperly, causing a crash the driver could not have predicted or prevented.
  • A company responsible for the truck’s trailer may have failed to maintain the trailer in good condition, leading to an accident. 
  • Another driver on the road may have failed to use due care, setting off a chain of events that resulted in the crash. 

In an EV crash, the case can be even more complex. The manufacturer of the electric vehicle and those responsible for its maintenance may also contribute to serious injuries if they act negligently. Since EVs are relatively new vehicles, determining exactly who knew or should have known about a problem can be more challenging than in traditional diesel truck collisions. 

If you’ve been injured in a crash with an electric vehicle, don’t wait. Talk to the experienced EV accident injury team at the Steinberg Law Firm today. We represent clients in Charleston, Goose Creek, Summerville, and throughout the Lowcountry.

Updated on May 17, 2023

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