Few people stop to think about the potential dangers that come with driving RC cars.
I don’t want to scare anyone away from the hobby, but it’s good to be aware of the risks. That way, you can know how to handle your car appropriately.
What dangers can RC cars possibly pose to operators and spectators?
RC cars can be dangerous if they become a projectile when they become uncontrollable at speed, leading to physical injury if the car hits someone. The power sources used in RC cars can also be dangerous. Nitro fuel is flammable and toxic, and RC car batteries can explode or catch fire.
RC car driving is tons of fun, but we seldom think about what can go wrong and cause a problem for us or those around us. RC cars are mostly safe, but there are some dangerous aspects to operating these cars that we need to be aware of to make our hobby as safe as possible.
Are RC Cars Dangerous?
There’s a risk of injury with most hobbies. However, driving RC cars can be very dangerous if you don’t take appropriate precautions.
Take a moment to sit and take stock of everything involved in RC car driving. You will soon discover that there are inherent dangers associated with RC car driving and the components used in the vehicle.
It is unnecessary to give up your RC car hobby to protect your health, but it is good to know how to work safely with your RC car and its components. Driving your RC car responsibly and with due care and caution will also minimize the danger of injury.
An RC Car Can Cause Impact Injury
The first danger regarding RC cars that comes to mind is the speed that some of these cars can attain and the potential for catastrophe when they get out of control.
Driving a rock-crawler RC car slowly over rough terrain poses little danger to the operator or bystanders. However, think of high-speed runs or extreme bashing.
Many RC cars can go 65 mph right out of the box. When you mix high speeds with rough terrain, you’ll quickly see where it can get dangerous.
For example, the Traxxas XO-1, the fastest Traxxes RC car, can top out at speeds over 100mph. It’s been recorded losing control and clipping innocent bystanders.
Rough terrain, combined with speed, can result in the RC car becoming uncontrollable and careening off the track and into any bystanders who may be in the way.
One particularly dangerous area is near large jumps where the RC car becomes airborne.
Many people position themselves close to jumps because it makes a great photo. However, if the driver’s approach angle is a little off or too much throttle is given at the wrong moment, the jump can go wrong. This can cause the car to fly into people standing around the RC track.
Some common sense can mitigate the potential dangers of RC car driving. Be aware of where you drive your RC car and warn people standing close to ramps or other areas that can cause the vehicle to lose control.
As the RC car operator, you need to be safe as well. It’s easy to become so engrossed in driving your car that you miss the danger of your car roaring towards you at high speed.
RC Nitro Fuel Can Be Hazardous
RC cars that run on nitro fuel require full gas tanks, periodic refilling, and carrying around storage containers of nitro fuel. Similar to all petroleum-based fuels, nitro fuel is flammable and toxic.
The nature of Nitro-powered RC cars requires storing the fuel in child-proof, pet-proof, and spill-proof containers. Don’t leave canisters of nitro fuel exposed to direct sunlight or near objects that can create a spark or easily catch fire.
Fire is always a risk when working with nitro fuel or on a car running on nitro. Many fire accidents occur when refilling an RC car fuel tank. Fuel spillage on a hot engine or exposed electronics can result in a fire.
Always take extra care when refueling a hot RC nitro car, and it goes without saying, do not smoke while you are performing this task.
Most nitro cars are equipped with safety valves in the fuel system, and many are gravity fed. However, there’s still a risk of fuel spilling if your RC car flips over during a crash. Fuel can spill out and onto the hot engine or electrical components, resulting in the fuel igniting and the vehicle bursting into flames.
If your car crashes into a crowd of spectators, it’s even more dangerous. Either the crash or the fire could result in injury.
If you operate a nitro-powered car, you need to be aware of the dangers posed by the fuel and take the appropriate steps to handle the fuel correctly. It would be best to have a powder-based fire extinguisher when working with the fuel or running the car.
A fire extinguisher will allow you to put out a fire quickly to save your RC car from too much damage and prevent the fire from causing damage to spectators or surroundings.
RC Car Batteries Are Dangerous
It’s not just Nitro fuel that could be dangerous, though, and LiPo batteries pose their own risks.
They could catch fire when not used or stored correctly, even when not connected to your vehicle.
LiPo or Lithium Polymer batteries have become popular in the RC industry for higher power delivery, lighter weight, better responsiveness, and longer run duration.
The chemical composition of these batteries requires that the maintenance and care they receive is given the proper attention. LiPo Batteries that get too hot or are short-circuited can pose the risk of explosion of the battery, or the battery can burst into flame.
With the proper care and maintenance, most accidents with these power sources can be avoided quite easily.
Taking the following measures when storing LiPo batteries:
- Store the batteries in an insulated, fireproof sheath.
- Store the batteries at room temperature.
- Never store your batteries on the charger.
- Don’t use damaged batteries or batteries showing signs of swelling.
Are RC Car Radio Transmissions Dangerous?
Many people question whether radio transmissions pose any danger to RC car operators. The question has been raised more frequently after the hype about 5G data transmission, which uses wireless transmissions, being bad for your health.
The danger in radio transmissions comes when the frequency is at a particular level and transmitted with a large amount of power to achieve distance.
RC car radio transmitters use low frequencies and are not transmitted with large amounts of power. The frequencies used in the RC hobby emit less radiation than the visible light spectrum, so they are no more dangerous than sitting under an illuminated light bulb!
Which RC Cars Are The Most Dangerous?
Any RC car has the potential to be dangerous, but the one RC car type that poses the highest risk is nitro-powered cars.
These cars are typically made from more robust parts, with more metal included in their construction. Nitro cars are also generally capable of higher speeds than most electric models, making them more dangerous if an uncontrollable car becomes a projectile.
The fuel used in nitro cars also has risks associated with their use, which further compounds the inherent danger of these cars.
However, the risks involved in operating nitro RC cars generally put them out of the safety zone of younger RC car operators. If you want to purchase an RC car for a child, look for a lower-powered, electric RC vehicle until they learn to be responsible drivers.
Once you know the potential risks involved in running and maintaining RC cars, the hobby becomes much safer.