Can Electric Cars Protect You?

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By Tom Becker of Buellton

On Friday, October 25, tragedy struck in the mountains of Santa Barbara County. A Chevrolet Volt was struck head-on by a Chevrolet Camaro that had crossed the centerline of Highway 154 just east of Cold Springs bridge. The driver of the Volt, and two children in the back seat, died at the scene.

The Chevrolet Volt is a small, compact hybrid-electric car. For years, local politicians and environmental groups have advocated for electric cars. The State of California, with the support of local elected officials, have touted cars like the Volt as environmentally friendly motor vehicles, and politicians and “environmental” groups are attempting to force people out of larger vehicles and into small compact and subcompact cars.

However, warnings have been raised about the safety of small cars like the Volt. Indeed, the collision protections that small cars provide have been discussed for decades. Those concerns have been swept aside by local politicians, all for the sake of environmental “protection”.

I can guarantee the reader, thousands of people who looked at the mangled remains of that small electric car on Highway 154 are thinking long and hard about what kind of vehicle they want their loved ones travelling in. 

Honest people can have honest disagreements over large versus small car crash statistics, but it is hard not to imagine a different outcome for the victims of that crash if the car they were travelling in had been a Hummer instead of a Volt.

Local politicians should respect the rights of people who wish to protect themselves and their families by purchasing and operating large motor vehicles. City councils, the Board of Supervisors and state and federal elected officials should all support efforts to protect the rights of the motoring public to choose the vehicles they determine are best suited for their needs. 

There are people out there who do not respect speed limit signs or public service announcements warning about the dangers of drunk driving. It is up to the people to defend themselves against the maniac, the drunk driver, the speed demon. The best defense is a car that comes as close to a tank as you can get, and the politicians and environmentalists must not be allowed to interfere with the choices the people make to protect themselves, their families and their loved ones. 


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59 Comments

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a-1572452880 Oct 30, 2019 09:28 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Electric & Hybrids bite you in the a** when So. Cal. Edison & PG & E turn the power off for long periods as they attempt to hide their poorly maintained transmission lines & substandard maintenance of the same.

Factotum Oct 30, 2019 09:32 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Irony being the public utilities were forced to spend their maintenance money on electric car rebates and the development of alternate energy sources. Now we have neither. California "progressivism" in action, leading to inaction on all fronts. Laws of unintended consequences. There was simply not enough money to go around to provide both - a fundamental lesson that always escapes progressives.

SBWalkers Oct 30, 2019 09:35 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Hybrids no, electric maybe. Our world is going through a transportation technology evolution. No matter what direction the technology is, there will be events like this that make us question the direction. It should not deter us. In this case, if it was a small gasoline car that was hit head on and the 'full' gas tank ruptured,... would that mean we should reconsider small gasoline cars...?

a-1572459675 Oct 30, 2019 11:21 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

"forced to spend their maintenance money" NO. Required to spend some of their profit? YES. Their deferral of maintenance & infrastructure upgrades in the face of profit is completely on them. And I'm sure the electric car rebates hardly totaled to more than a few drops in the bucket.

SantaBarbaraObserver Oct 30, 2019 09:54 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

What? Really? Are you really trying to assign blame on their death on the size of their car? Wow. There are not too many cars or trucks would have done much to stop 2tonnes of high velocity steel coming at you at some 75MPH down a 20% grade and hitting you straight on. This kind of Monday morning quarterbacking does not help anyone. Sounds like the NRA argument as to why we all need high powered assault rifles. You know, to protect against other high powered assault rifles... Ridiculous on so many levels.

FondofSB Oct 30, 2019 10:02 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Hybrids have an internal combustion engine with a gas tank.
This is what burns so quickly if hit the wrong way.
Fully electric cars do NOT have gas engine and so will not burn the way other cars will.
Get a full electric, hybrids are a bad (wasteful) combination !

mrtrump Oct 30, 2019 10:10 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

i would like to thank Edhat for posting this letter. the point is, even if you believe electric cars (i.e small cars) are safe, don't take away the right of people to choose large vehicles to protect their families. Let parents decide what kind of vehicles are safe for their children.

jqb Oct 31, 2019 08:07 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

So you're Tom Becker, the guy who wrote this ridiculous article with its awful logic that even other right wingers are tearing down? Makes sense given your previous contributions. And something we'll remember the next time you pretend to be living in Santa Barbara.

Alexblue Nov 01, 2019 10:27 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Hey, Tom, the Tesla Model X is as heavy as a Ford F-150 Truck, so not all electric cars are "small". You really don't know what you are talking about, even aside from the fact that the Volt is a hybrid, and not an electric car. You just blab.

a-1572456363 Oct 30, 2019 10:26 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

There is so much wrong with this op-ed. As much as the author dearly to want to blame local politicians and environmentalists, they have absolutely nothing to do with vehicle safety regulations. Nor do they have any influence on your choice of vehicle to drive. And never will. And advocating for environmentally friendly choices is not a bad thing. They are not "forcing" you to do anything. Are you touting everyone to drive equally sized giant trucks in the name of safety? Did you know the Volt has a higher occupant safety ratings than the Hummer? There will always be larger and smaller vehicles on the road. Your hypothetical Hummer would be just as obliterated if it ran head-on into a semi-truck. Those two cars ran into each other at well over 100mph closing speed. It's amazing anyone survived. The fact that one vehicle was (mostly) electric has ABSOLUTELY NO EFFECT on the sad result. It seems, as usual, your anger is misdirected. Perhaps instead if just stating "It is up to the people to defend themselves" you should be pushing for better enforcement of driving laws by the CHP, or as it seems in this case, advocating for better funding of mental health services to assist those that are a danger to themselves and others.

mrtrump Oct 30, 2019 11:06 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

To comment @1026 A.M- I was required by the rules of edhat opinion letters to eliminate all references to the issue of the revisions of federal fuel economy standards, which are opposed by our local, state and federal elected officials. Those revisions are intended to allow motor vehicle manufacturers to build and sell large, solidly constructed cars and trucks for people who want a large vehicle to protect themselves and their families.

a-1572456699 Oct 30, 2019 10:31 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Bring back the gas guzzlers baby!! Ford F-350s for all... with lift kits... and gun racks. Yeee Hawww!!

jqb Oct 30, 2019 11:01 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

"Honest people can have honest disagreements"

Sure. And then there are people like the author ...

OAITW Oct 30, 2019 11:10 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Mr. Becker - First of all, the Chevy Volt would probably be classified as a mid sized four door sedan. It is not small compared to many other cars. The fact that it’s drivetrain is plugin hybrid electric has absolutely no bearing on the safety of the car. And if it weren’t for the fact that you are hijacking someone else’s horrible tragedy to air your paranoid right wing fantasies about politicians and environmentalists forcing you to buy a certain type of vehicle, you, sir, would certainly be laughable.

monkeyboy Oct 30, 2019 11:18 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

This username is perfect for this article, because it is entirely opinion without any scientific fact. Modern cars are infinitely safer than the hugest car from even the 80s, not to mention the 50s, 60s or 70s. It has little to do with the size of the car and everything to do with airbags, crumple zones and a passenger area that is very strong.

a-1572460988 Oct 30, 2019 11:43 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

The size of vehicle, type of vehicle, wheelbase and tires have much to do with the ability of drivers and their vehicles to maneuver and avoid accidents. A small vehicle with short wheelbase and narrow tires is more prone to a driver losing control in an emergency maneuver. The same goes for large SUV's which are no more than truck chassis mounted with a comfortable body interior. Many SUV drivers do not have the skill to maneuver a large SUV or prevent a roll-over when they over steer the vehicle. A small vehicle that is hit hard by a larger vehicle or truck stands to have more damage to the vehicle and its passengers. This is simple physics law. Would you rather be in a large truck that hits a small car or be in the small or any car in the accident? No matter what they contain in safety equipment, many small cars are death traps! Look at the statistics. New small cars are safer than they've ever been, but new larger, heavier vehicles are still safer than small ones. It's a matter of physics: Bigger and heavier is safer than smaller and lighter. ... The highest is for mini cars: 64 deaths per million registered vehicles. Bigger cars are heavier and therefore can absorb the force of an impact more efficiently than a smaller car. Higher weight minimizes damage (and thus risk). The larger hoods in bigger vehicles have the advantage in head-on collisions because it has a has a more significant crumple zone.
Some accident and safety statistics are slanted because some models of cars are driven by younger drivers, who a more prone to accidents.

a-1572492297 Oct 30, 2019 08:24 PM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Okay. Now I get it. This is why, at intersections, people defer to me, in my big old Ford Van, with its giant all-metal bumpers. I thought it was because they were following the rules of the road and allowing me my legal right of way.

Luvaduck Oct 31, 2019 10:47 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Somehow this argument, that size/weight means everyone should drive one for protective reasons Sounds remarkably like the gun argument, justifies bullying, and falls into the belief system that "might makes right" and justifies territorial wars. When Golda Meier was president/chancellor--wahtever the top administrator of Israel is--people came to her suggesting that there be a curfew since so many women were being raped. She agreed and commented something like, a curfew for men after sundown would address the problem. If hulking vehicles weren't a superior source of income for car manufacturers and could be eliminated from production, this issue would go away (and smaller vehicles wouldn't be forced to back out of parking places blindly and be disabled from safely seeing ahead on roads.)

JaggedJax Oct 30, 2019 11:46 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Excellent argument here. Let me summarize it for you: Small cars are dangerous. Big cars are safe. And then somehow because this car was a hybrid (which ash been discontinued ) electric is bad.

Don't ever change edhat, don't ever change.

Alexblue Oct 30, 2019 12:08 PM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Tom, maybe you should do some research about how fatalities in car accidents are distributed across vehicle types so that you can provide some information for people to consider instead of an off the cuff unsupported opinion.

Sensibly Common Oct 30, 2019 12:09 PM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

I disagree with Mr Becker that we should be moving towards larger vehicles for two reasons:

1. It doesn't matter if the vehicle is electric or petroleum powered, the larger the vehicle, the more energy required to manufacture and propel the vehicle. We have a climate change problem, and our vehicles are part of the problem. Which sucks because I enjoy driving, but I get that my driving is part of the problem and I'm trying to curb it.
2. Pedestrian accidents are way way up across the US. It doesn't matter if the driver or the pedestrian are at fault, nobody deserves to die because of an accident. There is some speculation that increased SUV sales and pedestrian deaths are related. Vehicle designs should be safe for all, not just the occupants.

Luvaduck Oct 31, 2019 10:36 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

SUV width is also a problem: They fill parking slots designed for sedans so entirely that exiting from them can't be done without opening doors into the adjacent parking slot. The result of that is SUV driver's routinely look for slots between normal-width vehicles and opening doors, bang the **** out of other people's vehicles. Some take two parking places.

Shasta Guy Oct 30, 2019 12:47 PM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Large lithium ion battery + small electric car seems like a modern tech revival of the Ford Pinto. If the battery is breached, an uncontrollable fire may initiate. Drive whatever car you want, and don’t criticize others for their choices. I just downsized my F-150 to the new Ford Ranger. I need to haul stuff and people at the same time. I’ll gladly help evacuate stranded EV owners when they can’t charge up due to a PSPS. Unless of course you are like my Mount Shasta off grid neighbor who charges his EV with his solar panels. He never has to worry about a PSPS.

Alexblue Oct 30, 2019 01:18 PM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

I mean, you can't drive a car without an energy source and containing energy in a way that allows you to utilize it for that purpose is always going to present some risk. You do know that you drive around with a potential bomb under your truck all the time, right? Have you done any research on battery fires in accidents vs. gasoline fires? And, honestly, I can criticize whatever I want, if I think you are making a bad choice, I'm free to do that, but if I were to do so I'd try and provide some evidence for the criticism instead of an off the cuff and unsubstantiated claim.

a-1572709282 Nov 02, 2019 08:41 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Like a Pinto? Get real. As I'm sure you are aware, the Pinto's gas tank is under the flimsy rear bumper. That is not the case with batteries in today's EVs. Not telling the truth is not a good policy.

2contango Oct 30, 2019 12:53 PM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

The fact that the Volt is a hybrid isn't relevant. Electric-powered vehicles can come in all sizes ranging from compacts to semi trucks (coming soon to our roads). It's only a matter of time before the internal combustion engine is completely phased out. It has nothing to do with size.

SBSBSBSBSBsb Oct 30, 2019 03:43 PM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

I know edhat is home to some extremely dense, reactionary people who can solve the worlds problems from their keyboard but come on. This doesn't even make sense.

a-1572476068 Oct 30, 2019 03:54 PM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

I find it extremely offensive that this sort of veiled victim blaming would be allowed here. This is despicable and should not be published so soon after a massive tragedy that has hit so close to home for so many readers. Not cool.

pstarSR Oct 30, 2019 04:54 PM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

I wonder if the chevy volt would have been fine if not hit by giant suv that hit it after the camero. Ohhh im sorry did i just destroy your rediculous diatribe about suvs being safer?

SBLetsGetAlong Oct 30, 2019 07:42 PM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Good point about electric cars in high fire danger areas. You need to make sure you have a reliable way to get out.

Hope the car is charged before a PSPS & you keep it charged somehow.

Stay safe. This is not a climate issue, it’s a personal safety and preparedness issue.

yacht rocked Oct 31, 2019 06:06 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Buy a used school bus. Plenty of room for the family tree and their pets. Everyone should drive one, although the parking at Trader Joe's might be an issue. ;)

a-1572529705 Oct 31, 2019 06:48 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

I have lived here all my life. I have driven 154 dozens and dozens of times. I have almost been in a number of accidents not of my doing, and learned to drive extremely defensively, more so than more conventional routes. It is that road and many drivers who do not care about anyone else. To opinion piece sounds like a Second Amendment rant, "I need my gun to protect my family" sounds like, "I need my Hummer to protect my family." What about that Camaro? I used to own a 1967 Camaro, and those are muscle cars. I used to own mine before seat belts were required. People were still getting killed on 154 back then. I also was an auto claims adjuster, and saw many internal combustion vehicles in the same crumpled state as that Volt. It's not electric cars that are the problem, it is drivers who drive too fast on a road not designed to handle modern cars of any size or power source, and is especially dangerous to motorcycles, who tend to push the limits of that stretch at the top of the pass an on down. Part of me thinks that the opinion piece is being sarcastic since it is such a ridiculous argument.

bradleybennett Oct 31, 2019 07:59 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

It’s been said, but in short:
A) this is not an issue of election vs combustion vehicles.
B) Of course the larger car is going to “win” in the majority of collisions, but that doesn’t mean we should all race to have the largest car on the road. If we all drove more reasonably sized vehicles, we would do more for the environment (whether elec or gas) and we would all be on a more even playing field.
C) An article said the Camero had reinforced steel panels. This guy was diagnosed with behaviorial issues and so you can’t turn this situation around to make an argument why people shouldn’t drive fuel efficient cars.

This is a very short sighted post, but I am glad to see the audience is not falling for it.

a-1572535983 Oct 31, 2019 08:33 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Tom Becker of Buellton is the Edhat poster: "MRTRUMP"? But, still, in Santa Barbara County. So he does have some standing on issues related to the City of Santa Barbara. Sorta.

PitMix Oct 31, 2019 09:02 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Missing from this is an assessment of the actual risk of being killed on the highway and whether driving larger cars would help decrease the risk. It would make more sense to me to try to speed up the development of driverless cars so that we can drive vehicles with a reasonable size without worrying about getting killed by a Surburban or Camaro.

EastBeach Oct 31, 2019 09:15 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

The premise that larger cars are safer than smaller cars has been used before. That was in the late 70's and early 80's when the "Big Three" were still churning out large domestic gas guzzling polluters. Times sure have changed.

Luvaduck Oct 31, 2019 10:23 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

At a cocktail party when huge SUVs were first being introduced, I heard one man tell several others that he was buying one for his wife b/c <she was a terrible driver> and accident prone. For while the sale of these juggernauts went down in CA, but they are up to more than they were the last time gas was "cheap".

Sue Algaze Oct 31, 2019 10:53 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

My BF is a seatbelt expert/engineer who testifies in court and he says mass is huge.... it counts BUT the Tessla, that he drives and I drive is the safest car on the highway, that's why he drives it.! No we don't have the small one but the S model and IT IS the safest cars on the road for many reasons! Buy electric... it's the future... no doubt in my mind.
He recently bought a Chevy Volt for his son who drives for UBER and Lyft and I know he had conflicting feelings about it's size when he bought it after his son was hit on the highway and his car was totalled in May. He wanted a heavier car but finally decided on the Volt after much searching for the right car. This has hit home again this week because his son was side swiped by an uninsured motorist a few days ago. I had a car accident in February and I still havent replaced my car but have been driving his Tesla and I love that car and I know I'm safe because it weights 4600 pounds (with the X and 3 weighing about 3500 lbs).

Sue Algaze Oct 31, 2019 11:00 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

btw... I was hit by a man in a BMW and my car totalled in a snowstorm (Infinity G35) in Denver.
Also, we live at the top of 154 just a few miles from where this tragic accident took place! My BF has asked the city to install more safety features on the pass and 154 in general and they did make some changes for the better but it still remains a very dangerous road and one we travel daily!

Alexblue Nov 01, 2019 10:21 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

Hi, Sue, actually, the Tesla Model X is the heaviest at about 5,200 pounds. Then the S at about 4,200 then the model 3. In fact the X is classified as a "truck" because of the weight.

Flicka Oct 31, 2019 10:42 AM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

I don't know if SUVs have been made safer but used to be because they were built on truck chassis they were top heavy and prone to rolling over. One single car accident in Montecito had the SUV roll and the top collapsed and the chassis dropped down on the couple inside. Both paralyzed. Size didn't help them.

Bene Oct 31, 2019 04:12 PM
Can Electric Cars Protect You?

I think that perhaps we should all respect Mr. Becker's right to air his opinion without fear of being piled on and called names and compared to NRA etc. I don't agree with him. I agree with many of the posters who have made good points-- but I cringed at the mean spirited way that some of these points were made. Even if your position is right, name-calling, making suppositions about the character of someone you don't even know, and generalizing their comments on one topic to other unrelated topics just doesn't feel right. These "pile-ons" seem to be done by people who would never condone bullying---yet fail to see that this is just what they are doing. There should be a classy way to express your "morally superior" argument.

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