Hybrid cars may be safer in accidents than traditional cars, but may put pedestrians at risk
By Michael Pines, Accident & Injury Expert
Hybrid cars are well-known for economical fuel consumption and keeping the environment green, but now a new study says hybrids are also safer for occupants than traditional vehicles in their same class due to their reduced risk of car accident injury. In an interesting twist, however, the study found that hybrids were more likely to strike a pedestrian due to the engine’s quietness.
The IIHS studied 25 car models that produce both traditional and hybrid vehicles, produced between 2003 and 2011. Of the cars studied in the cohort, all vehicles were involved in at least one car accident that resulted in an injury claim. The Toyota Prius and Honda Insight were the only two hybrid models excluded from the study since both vehicles do not have a traditional counterpart.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) found that a hybrid’s extra heft due to battery weight reduces the risk of car accident injury by 25 percent. The reduced odds come in favor of the weightier car itself which responds better to compression and impact than other cars of lighter capacity. For instance, The Washington Post reports that a Honda Accord that weighs 480 pounds as a hybrid will have a better chance of reducing an occupant’s injury than a Toyota Highlander that weighs 330 pounds.
“Saving at the pump no longer means you have to skimp on crash protection,” said Matt Moore, vice president of the Highway Loss Data Institute and author of the report.
Despite the positive findings, however, the study also found that hybrids were consequently 20 percent more likely to hit a pedestrian than other vehicles due to their quiet engine.
“When hybrids operate in electric-only mode, pedestrians can’t hear them approaching,” Moore said, “so they might step out into the roadway without checking first to see what’s coming.”
To help put an end to pedestrian accidents, Congress and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will aim to install sound devices to alert pedestrians when hybrid vehicles are approaching.
Safe hybrid cars
If you drive a hybrid car, consider these tips to make the most of your safe driving.
Install a back up camera
Since hybrid cars tend to be so quiet, consider installing a rear back up camera to avoid any unnecessarily tragic accidents. Many models are already equipped with rear cameras, but if yours isn’t, installing one is a necessity for a safer home and neighborhood.
If you sense a problem, get it checked out
Several hybrid models saw unfavorable headlines this year after repeated recalls, so if you sense something is wrong with your car, call the dealership where the car is purchased to inquire about the problem. The dealership may be able to inform you of any potential recall related to your problem. If you find no resolve by placing a call to the dealership, consider calling the manufacturer direct or get the issue checked out professionally as soon as possible.
Be prepared in case of an emergency
Most car accidents are unpredictable. That’s why it’s important to be prepared in case of an emergency. Download a free car accident checklist and store it in your glove box should an accident occur. And, if you have been injured in an accident and suspect it was the other person’s fault, call me for a legal consultation at 1-800-655-6585 and I’ll answer your legal questions free of charge.
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