Transport Theory

Hybrids: safer for passengers, less so for pedestrians

Posting in Energy

A new study finds that while hybrids may be safer for their passengers than conventional vehicles, they are more also more likely to be involved in pedestrian accidents.

If you're looking out for a safe car for your family, a hybrid may actually be a better bet than a standard vehicle. According to a study carried out by the Highway Loss Data Institute (which is affiliated with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), drivers of hybrid cars are 25% less likely to suffer injury in the event of an accident than drivers of non-hybrid vehicles.

It may come as no surprise that heavier cars provide better protection to passengers in a collision than lighter cars. It turns out that the batteries that help to power hybrids actually create more weight, making them on average 10 percent heavier than regular cars. The study used more than 25 hybrid cars paired with their standard-model versions.

Take a look at this video summarizing the study's findings:

But it's not all good news. A different study, also carried out by the Highway Loss Data Institute, found that among 17 pairings of hybrid and non-hybrid vehicles, the hybrids were 20 percent more likely to be involved in an accident with a pedestrian. When driving in electric mode, hybrids are so quiet that pedestrians often do not hear them approaching.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has already been promoting a measure that would require hybrids and electric vehicles to emit a noise to warn pedestrians of their approach.

Automakers such as Toyota and Lexus are already working on a motor sound alert for their hybrid and electric vehicles. And as SmartPlanet reported back in July, Ford has even tried to crowd source the selection of its electric vehicle warning noise.

Photo: Honda

via [CarScoop]

Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure