Do you ever consider the risks of being injured in a car fire? If you're like most drivers, the answer is probably no. Car fires happen more often than we might think, however, according to data cited in a Consumer Reports article. The leading culprits are mechanical or electrical defects.
What do the numbers reveal about car fires?
Roughly 3 million Hyundai and Kia models were investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for their heightened fire risks (not related to crashes.) A thorough examination found that more than 3,000 incidents were documented by both automakers, who have agreed to comply with the terms of the investigation.
In addition, Tesla's electric cars have sparked awareness among consumers and regulators after several pictures and videos of car fires went viral on the internet. Concerns regarding the safety of Tesla's electric cars were later supported by a Vehicle Safety Report, which confirms that between 2012-2018, there was one fire for every 170 million miles driven.
On a larger scale, estimates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency assert that 171,500 highway vehicle fires occurred each year across the US from 2014-2016. This resulted in 345 deaths and 1,300 injuries.
Forty-five percent of car fires during that period were caused by mechanical defects. Another 21 percent were caused by electrical defects, 13 percent by misuse of flammable materials, and only five percent by collisions, according to the National Fire Incident Reporting System.
Taking these measures may save your life
Injuries or deaths related to car fires aren't preventable 100 percent of the time but the likelihood of being hurt in a car fire can be greatly reduced by following these steps in the event of a fire:
- Pullover and shut off the engine to stop the flow of fuel.
- Get yourself and passengers out of the car immediately and get 100-150 feet away. Retrieving personal property isn't worth your life. The value of these items may be compensated by your insurance.
- Call 911 immediately or have someone else call for you.
- Only use a Class B or Class C fire extinguisher from a safe distance. If you're unsure what kind of extinguisher you have, check the label.
- Don't open the hood or trunk if you suspect a fire. This can increase oxygen, which can strengthen the fire.
- Be aware of your surroundings and stay out of the line of traffic.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, these are the warning signs to be aware of:
- An odor of burning rubber or plastic
- A fuse that frequently blows
- Cracked or loose wires
- Leaking fluids or oil
- An unfastened oil cap
- Sudden drops in oil or fluid levels
- High engine temperature
Here's how you can reduce the risk
Want to reduce the likelihood of your car catching fire? Follow these guidelines discussed in the Consumer Reports article:
- Have your car routinely checked and serviced by an experienced mechanic.
- When carrying gasoline, try using smaller containers and keep a window open to ventilate your car.
- If you carry large gas cans or propane tanks, keep them out of your passenger compartment.
- Be aware of flammable materials and dry grass when parking, avoid contact with your catalytic converter.
Despite taking these safety measures, car fires can still happen, and your car manufacturer or auto parts maker may be to blame. That's why if you're injured in a car fire, you should consult with an experienced Arkansas car accident attorney as soon as possible.