Are electric vehicles causing a new type of road rage?
By Jim Bray
A special TechnoFile rant.
Everyone knows that electric vehicles are a wonderful panacea and that anyone who embraces them are forward thinking, wonderful people who only have the best interests of the universe in mind.
I mean, aren't electric vehicles going to singlehandedly eliminate the need for that awful black gold stuff that keeps cropping up underground – and sometimes right on the surface – while making us al happier and more productive? Etc. etc. etc.
Perhaps not. I've been skeptical about moving to electric vehicles for years – not so much because they're electric (I love that torque!) but because the technology isn't there yet. I'll feel a lot better about EV's when I can recharge one as quickly as I can gas up my A4 and drive it for as long as I can drive my A4 before it needs to be recharged. And I don't see that happening for year.Once it does, then let's talk – and let's also talk about where that electricity comes from, whether it be solar, wind, nuclear, hydro, or unicorn farts.
Meanwhile, electric vehicles will continue to be an interesting niche useful to people whose commutes aren't particularly onerous, or who have plenty of time to sit on the roadside while their EV soaks up electricity from what could be an already overstressed electrical infrastructure.
I look forward to the kumbaya moments we'll all face, however, once the technology makes it possible for us to all join hands and celebrate mother Gaia. After all, isn't that how today's EV drivers act and feel?
Perhaps not. According to a press release I received recently. According to the British website LeaseElectricCar.co.uk, incidents of "charge rage" are on the rise in old Blighty, with EV owners "taking to social media to highlight the problems caused by a lack of charging points" as well as "the lengths drivers will go to, to make sure they get their car charged first."
According to these folks, drivers of electric vehicles have started calling for a "clear code of conduct to be issued on the rules on using public charging points" thanks to these reports of charge rage incidents across the UK.
"Drivers have reported multiple incidents of irate motorists arguing over whose turn it is to use a charging point and even unplugging other vehicles so they can use the charger," the release said. The group notes, for example, that "new electric car driver, Jessica Fletcher, took to Facebook to complain about the treatment she received at a charging point in a supermarket car park - just one week after collecting her new EV."
"I've had the car a week," the release quotes her as having posted, "never had to queue for a charger but tonight I think (if the shouting bloke is to be believed) I inadvertently jumped the queue. There seems to be so many unwritten rules and so much anger toward those who get it wrong."
Of course, until there are chargers everywhere this will be the situation as more and more people are coerced into moving to the EV side of the automotive equation, whether it be coercion by Greenie dogma, government persondate, rising gasoline prices, or whatever it may be.
Here's how Fletcher described her particular incident: "I pulled in the car park and saw a bloke in a little smart car waiting for the chargers. I thought I'd done the right thing by parking up in a bay out of the way so when the smart car had a space I moved into his space. Only then I ended up with some bloke in a huge Audi jumping out of his car jabbing his finger and shouting at me that I'd jumped the queue – he'd been waiting and I'd just pulled up." Damn Audi drivers!
Her victimization rant continued with her noting that she soon realised there was no point in trying to explain that she'd been parked in a bay, so she "just begged him to leave me alone."
It appears to have been only her second time charging up her vehicle, because she followed up with "Is this what it's like? Did my first charge lull me into a false sense of friendliness, because the guys using the chargers were lovely."
Not only that but it raised the question, to her, "How do you know what order to wait in? Or is it best not to bother waiting and not seek out supermarkets, gyms or restaurants with charging? I'm wishing I'd stuck with petrol right now if I'm honest."
I wonder how many others share that wish.
According to the LeaseElectricCar (who claim to be one of the UK's biggest suppliers of EVs) release, Fletcher (I don't know what her/his/its pronouns are, so I'll just use her/his/its last name) wasn't alone in her/his/its tale of electrical energy angst. And it appears that, rather than just interact with people to find solutions, at least some of these EV aficionados want to see clarification of the rules around public charging.
Rules? Who knew there'd be rules?
According to LeaseElectricCar.co.uk's Tim Alcock, it's time for the industry to publish guidelines to prevent incidents of Charge Rage happening. "Contrary to popular belief, not all electric vehicle owners are tree hugging vegans who wouldn't hurt a fly," he's quoted as saying. "The truth is EV's are mainstream now and the drivers who use them are simply a cross section of the wider public. They get just as angry and frustrated as other road users. But they also have to deal with a scarcity of charging points along with the extra stress which comes from range anxiety.
"When you factor these things in," Alcock said, "it's little wonder that we are seeing a worrying rise in reports of Charge Rage as drivers compete for a limited number of public charging points."
Alcock also reported that Fletcher's sad tale "is just one of dozens of similar incidents our customers have shared with us. We've even heard of drivers coming to blows over whose turn it is to plug their car in."
Good thing the Brits don't have a Second Amendment, eh?
He also noted that "it's also common place for drivers to unplug a vehicle which has been left on charge and to plug their own vehicle in instead. The driver of the first car returns to their vehicle expecting it to be topped up only to find someone else has stolen their charge." He said the problem is likely going to get worse, at least over the short term, as the people are increasingly forced into EV's while the infrastructure to keep the beasties going lags behind.
So, he's also calling for better infrastructure to better keep up with the demand, which makes a certain amount of sense. Where it gets a tad ominous is his call for a "clear code of conduct" around the use of public charging points, so people know what behaviour is and isn't acceptable. "Clearly it is never acceptable to become aggressive and intimidating and what happened to Jessica sounds very frightening," he said, adding that "until the number of charging points significantly increases and a code of conduct is adopted and integrated into the Highway Code, we fear incidents of Charge Rage will only increase."
So, yeah, we need more nanny state. That's the ticket!
I have no issue with electric vehicles. They have their place and that place will undoubtedly expand as technology advances. They can be fine commuter vehicles and you can even take a long trip with them as long as you plan ahead and don't mind waiting an hour to recharge – assuming you can find a handy charging station – a vehicle that would "recharge" in five minutes if it burned gasoline.
One of my chief beef with EV's is that governments force everyone else to help these purchasers afford their vehicles through tax incentives. Want an EV? Fine, go nuts. But pay for it yourself.
My other chief beef is with folks who seem to have the impression that this magic electricity will be the answer to pollution and other evils. Electricity has to be generated, so every "zero emissions" electric vehicle is merely moving its emissions back to the power generating station. I have no issue with that fact; I just have to laugh at the naivety – or brainwashedness – of those who think their car isn't causing emissions.
And that doesn't count the emissions and environmental turmoil it takes to make the vehicles in the first place, including the mining of the metals for the batteries.
But the issue in this column isn't the technology, it's people. And until humanity is all warm and fuzzy and gets along regardless of race, sex, religion, or electrified vehicle status, such things are going to happen. People are people. Some EV drivers are aggressive, some are jerks, some are oblivious and some have their heads so far up their posteriors they can't see the light of day. And some are great!
Just like people who don't drive EV's.
So, suck it up, snowflakes, and learn how to get alone with other people. Maybe look around before you dive into that charging spot?
Perhaps these EV angst folks should start packing heat. After all, as my favourite author Robert A. Heinlein once wrote "an armed society is a polite society."
Choke on that thought for a moment, liberals.
Copyright 2023 Jim Bray