Automotive technology has progressed rapidly in recent years. As New York drivers grow more sensitive to environmental concerns and rising gas prices, many are turning to electric or hybrid vehicles. However, while these vehicles do have a number of benefits, they also pose some unique risks in the event of an accident.

Unlike traditional gas-powered automobiles, electric and hybrid vehicles utilize high voltage electric propulsion systems. These systems can become damaged in a motor vehicle accident, putting both accident victims and first responders at risk of injury. A compromised electrical system could shock or electrocute someone who comes into contact with the vehicle. There is also a chance that first responders could accidentally injure someone or start a fire by cutting though a high-voltage line during a rescue.

Because of these risks, automakers have taken steps to help first responders keep people safe in the event of an electric or hybrid vehicle accident. Manufacturers have labeled the inside of their vehicles and have highlighted dangerous components with bright colors.

In addition, manufacturers have worked with the National Fire Protection Association to develop training programs for first responders. In those trainings, first responders are educated on safe ways to respond to car accidents involving electric or hybrid vehicles, including how to shut off the vehicles’ electrical systems and how to extricate a victim from a collapsed or crushed car.

New York police receive crash training

For the most part, these training programs are offered to fire departments. However, in New York, the State Police are typically the first responders to highway accidents. This fall, 40 collision investigators from the New York State Police became the first police officers in the nation to attend the NFPA’s training program. Over the next year, these officers will train all New York State Troopers in best practices for responding to accidents involving electric and hybrid vehicles.

As part of the program, officers worked with the NFPA to refine the program to best fit the needs of the law enforcement community.

Prior to receiving the training, the New York State Police had worked directly with vehicle manufacturers to distribute safety information to officers.

New York car accident lawsuits

While it is true that electric and hybrid vehicles do present special safety concerns in the event of a crash, it is important to recognize that these differences do not make negligent drivers any less liable. If a person is injured because of a compromised high voltage electric propulsion system or other electric problem, the driver who caused the accident can be held responsible, even if the injuries would not have occurred in a traditional vehicle.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a New York motor vehicle accident, it is important to take steps to protect your rights. An Orange County personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and help you understand your options.