Just As I Thought

Getting scared

Perhaps it’s the gas-guzzling SUV manufacturers or the high-on-the-hog oil companies. All I know is that someone is trying to put the kibosh on the sudden interest in hybrid cars by scaring people. From Gizmodo:

Those new hybrid cars that all you hippies love may have an unforeseen danger in an accident: high-voltage shock for rescue workers. Most of the time, to free a trapped passenger after an accident, the car is sliced and cut open with hydraulic tools–the proverbial ‘Jaws of Life.’ Now there’s worry that unless proper procedure is followed, like turning off the car and disconnecting the battery (asking for forgiveness of sins, emptying rescue boots of conductive prank jelly), crunching into the side of a wreck could merit a nasty, pants-filling surprise. The best solution so far seems to be to ignore the doors (where many of the electrical cables snake through) and instead go for the roof.

This story comes from CNN, which says:

Manufacturers have a list of safety checks that the car’s computer must go through for the electrical system to run. They’ve published guides showing the location of the electric components; on the Toyota Prius and other hybrids, the high-power cables are colored bright orange to catch the eye of a rescue worker or a mechanic.

But there are concerns over what happens if something goes wrong and the battery, ignition and other points are inaccessible.

“It’s the ‘what-if’ that worries me,” said David Castiaux, an instructor for Mid-Del Technology Center in Del City, Oklahoma, who teaches rescue workers about hybrids.

This issue came up years ago when the Toyota Prius first arrived. There was a bit of discussion about it, but it seemed like it was no big deal–the car had automatic shutoffs in the event of an accident. Even so, there were lots of bright orange cables warning you what parts to avoid.
If the new Prius is involved in an accident, mechanical parts automatically sever the electrical system from the batteries. And the batteries themselves don’t put out enormous voltage, that’s the work of the inverter system.
If I were doing auto rescues, I’d be far more worried about the much more prevalent hazard for emergency responders, one the story doesn’t mention: airbags. More and more cars feature side curtain air bags (including the Prius), which include explosive parts and wiring harnesses (again with potentially dangerous voltages) that run through door frames. I’ve read of many injuries caused by side airbags exploding when firemen try to gain entrance to a wrecked vehicle.

Why single out the hybrids?

Update: Again, the so called “journalists” mess up: the cursory investigation I did on the subject, through car websites and my own car’s manual shows that the high voltage cables DO NOT run through the doors, but in fact, run under the car, shielded and insulated.
Who told this reporter that they run through the doors, and why didn’t he fact check it?
‘Cos the story would be pointless if he did: “Hybrid cars have high-voltage cables that run under the frame in a hard-to-reach area, and which contain no voltage when the car is in a crash.”

1 comment

  • Electrocution is unpatriotic, but burning to death in a gasoline fire makes you a fine Republican.

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