Traffic Law held up
After a local electric car dealer tried to get one of his vehicle’s registered at the Department of Vehicles and Licensing earlier this month, a Cayman Islands government ministry said electric vehicle safety is one of the reasons the implementation of Cayman’s new Traffic Law has been delayed.
The majority of changes contained in the new law, which was approved by legislators and signed by Governor Duncan Taylor late last year, have not come into effect. Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said in a three page statement last week that regulations being attached to the law were complex and needed further review.
“The registration and licensing of vehicles was an intricate process and required extensive research on many issues,” the deputy premier’s statement indicated. Those included arriving at a universal formula for recording kilowatts per hour for electric vehicle engine output.
Vehicle Licensing Director David Dixon said safety with the electric vehicles was another “paramount concern”.
“A new protocol by our first responders [ambulance crews, police] had to be taken into consideration when dealing with accidents,” Mr. Dixon said. “Electric shock is an area of particular concern.
“Today’s popular hybrids include batteries that surge with 500 volts of electricity, which is enough to cause serious injury or death.
Though most cabling for such systems is coloured orange for easy discovery, the practice isn’t followed by all manufacturers. The batteries’ location, typically in the trunk, might also be unknown to responders.”
John Felder of Cayman Automotive, who has been trying to sell electric cars in Cayman for more than five years, said his company held a special meeting with emergency responders last year to address safety concerns.
“All of the electric vehicles sold by Cayman Automotive are equipped with impact sensors that disconnect all the power from the Lithium battery pack in the event of an impact of 30g or greater, or an airbag deployment,” Mr. Felder said. “This enables emergency responders arriving at an accident scene to work on victims without worrying about the danger of shock.”
“The safety of our customers will never be compromised,” he said.
The government is also working on regulations that will classify electric vehicles that can travel at more than 30 miles per hour as “ordinary vehicles”. Those that are not capable of going more than 30 miles per hour will be classified as “special electric vehicles” and will only be allowed for use in certain areas such as parking lots or private properties.
Special electric vehicles that travel in 40 or 50 mile per hour speed zones will commit an offence under the new Traffic Law.
Overall, the regulations to accompany the Traffic Law consist of 12 separate sections, and Deputy Premier O’Connor-Connolly said all but one have been completed.
“My team and I are striving for the implementation of the law and regulations as soon as possible,” she said.
In addition to electric cars, the regulations deal with such issues as fines, speed limits, driver testing and the creation of the Cayman Islands road code.