Florida State Senator Jonathan Martin is asking transportation officials to somehow limit the use of EVs during emergency evacuations, such as those conducted during hurricanes. The senator is suggesting that EVs could become “roadblocks” if they run out of power along major evacuation routes, according to CBS News.
Martin, who currently sits on Florida’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee, wants the state to consider keeping EVs off these routes until more charging stations can be built, for fear of stranded EVs clogging up crowded roadways. Florida is already planning to add new EV stations, which will be paid for by federal grants, and is slated to receive $198 million over the next five years to build out its EV infrastructure.
But until then — by about 2028, or so — it sounds like Martin is floating the possibility that EV owners should stay off roads during emergency evacuations, per CBS:
“With a couple of guys behind you, you can’t get out of the car and push it to the side of the road. Traffic backs up. And what might look like a two-hour trip, might turn into an eight-hour trip once you’re on the road,” Martin said Thursday during a discussion on charging stations at the Senate Select Committee on Resiliency.
“My concern is there’s not an infrastructure currently available in the state of Florida for the amount of EVs that might be used to evacuate, on evacuation routes, during a time of emergency,” Martin added.
Putting aside the fact that a gas-powered car left stranded without fuel along an evacuation route will create the same bottleneck as an EV, and be just as hard to reach — since evacuations temporarily turn the shoulder into a driving lane — the state senator’s concern just doesn’t seem to have an established precedent. Yes, an ICE-equipped car can be more easily refueled to get it moving, but so can an EV given the right tools.
One of the technology directors with the Florida Department of Transportation, Trey Tillander, responded to the state senator’s suggestion by explaining that the state is looking into ways to help EV owners, rather than keep them off the roads during evacuations:
“Some of the things we’re looking into ... is portable EV chargers,” Tillander said. “So, if an electrical vehicle runs out of charge, there are technologies. We have our Road Rangers. We have our emergency assistance vehicles that we deploy during a hurricane evacuation that have gas. ... We need to provide that same level of service to electric vehicles.”
And it’s not like EVs have posed a great risk to Florida evacuees before. No mass “EV roadblock” situations have yet occurred, so the senator’s request seems unfounded, to say the least. As the CBS report mentions, the state had no “significant issues during last year’s Hurricane Ian evacuation.”
CBS adds that EVs made up only one percent of the vehicles at the time; the Department of Transportation in Florida expects the number to reach between 10 to 35 percent by 2040. In other words, given the federal grants for charging stations that Governor Ron DeSantis’ state will be receiving soon, Florida’s EV infrastructure should be well equipped to handle any influx of EVs in the near future. The state shouldn’t have to resort to limiting EV use during evacuations.