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Police Study High-Voltage Hazard: Electric Car Crashes

Preventing injury or death was the aim of a training session for New York State Police collision investigators.

More than 40 New York State Police collision investigators received training today aimed at preventing injuries or deaths when responding to motor vehicles involving electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. 

They are the first police officers in the nation to receive the training, which has been developed over the past year in conjunction with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), state police officials said in a press release:

The investigators will subsequently train all New York State Troopers statewide and the Electric Vehicle Safety Training Program for Law Enforcement will be offered by NFPA to police agencies nationwide. 

NFPA’s training was developed as part of a nationwide effort to help prepare first responders for the growing number of electric and hybrid vehicles on the road today, providing information on how to most effectively deal with emergency situations involving extended-range, hybrid and electric vehicles. 

While all motor vehicle crashes are potentially hazardous, electric and hybrid-electric vehicles are characterized by high voltage electric propulsion systems, which are significantly different than those found in conventional vehicles. Although they are designed with a variety of safety systems, electric and hybrid-vehicles present unique concerns for emergency responders if those systems are compromised as a result of a motor vehicle crash. 

The New York State Police has joined forces with the NFPA to ensure that its troopers and police officers nationwide will be prepared to recognize those potential hazards. 

“Our troopers are often the first on the scene of motor vehicle crashes, so it is critical they are cognizant of any hazards to themselves, the vehicle occupants, or other emergency responders,” said Major Robin H. Benziger, Director of Training for the State Police. “I’m grateful to the NFPA for sharing their knowledge with the New York State Police and the broader law enforcement community.”  

The New York State Police began working with specific manufacturers to distribute electric vehicle safety information to police agencies in 2009, but had no formal training in place until now. The NFPA, which develops standards and occupational safety codes for a variety of industries, developed electric vehicle safety training for the fire service, and began training fire fighters nationwide in 2011. 

A year ago, the two organizations joined forces to develop job specific training for law enforcement officers, both at crash scenes and during subsequent investigations. James M. Shannon, NFPA president said, “NFPA is supporting the large-scale introduction of electric vehicles by helping first responders become familiar with any new car that is coming down the road. We are proud to tailor our successful Electric Vehicle Safety Training Project to fit the needs of those in law enforcement, specifically in the state of New York. Often times, police officers are the first to respond to the scene of an accident and NFPA’s training will help protect officers and allow them to better protect the public.” 

NYSP training participants had the opportunity to experience first-hand the new technologies and special features included in these vehicles through a live demonstration.The crash investigators receiving training today will be validating the training and making final recommendations prior to it being made available to the law enforcement community nationwide.

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