Hybrids Found Safer for Drivers, More Hazardous for Pedestrians

According to a recent study from the Highway Loss Data Institute, hybrid drivers experience fewer injuries in collisions than those who drive traditional cars. Although this seems surprising, the reason is that hybrid car designs call for extra weight, making them more stable when involved in car accidents – which is especially important in a high-traffic area such as New York City.

Hybrids Safer in Car Accidents Than Previous Thought

“Hybrids on average are 10 percent heavier than their standard counterparts,” states Matt Moore, president of HLDI. “This extra mass gives them an advantage in crashes.” In the event of a collision, the vehicle with more weight has a tendency to thrust the other backwards, applying more force on the lighter car. Heavier automobiles are also better at absorbing impact from a crash.

One example is the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, which weighs 4,500 pounds, around 330 pounds more than its traditional counterpart. The Honda Accord hybrid can outweigh its gasoline equivalent by 480 pounds. Components like the battery pack often explain the extra weight.

However, some automakers claim that driver conduct may play a larger role in accidents and injuries. According to David Lee, a Toyota representative with expertise in Prius models, many hybrid drivers tend to be not as aggressive.

Increased Risk of Injury for Pedestrians

However, the same study found that the silent electric motors produce more accidents for pedestrians, who can’t hear the vehicles approach. Specifically, when hybrids are running in electric-only mode, they are often inaudible for those on the sidewalks. HLDI dis covered that hybrids can be up to 20 percent more likely to cause pedestrian related accidents.

Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is attempting to create a noise producer that would be put in hybrids so pedestrians could hear them.