Hybrid cars: Saving the Environment..And Your Life?

Most would agree that hybrid cars are better for the environment than traditional gas guzzling vehicles. And, hybrid cars are better for your wallet, too, since these vehicles use less gas. But, did you know that hybrid cars might offer safety benefits as well?

As reported in the Washington Post, according to a recent insurance industry report issued by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, that may very well be the case (hat tip: Bob Kraft). The main reason that these types of cars are safer? Hybrids weigh more than traditional cars of the same size and thus tend to fare better in the event of a car accident. The increased weight is due to the heavy batteries found in hybrid vehicles, as explained in the article:

People who invest in hybrid cars are significantly less likely to be injured in an accident because their heavy batteries make the vehicles safer than traditional cars, according to an insurance industry report released Thursday.

The average hybrid is 10 percent heavier than a traditional car of the same size, and the extra heft reduces the odds of being hurt in a crash by 25 percent, the report says.

However, according to that very same report, if you happen to be a pedestrian, hybrids may be more hazardous to your health than other types of cars. According to the report, this is because hybrids operate much more quietly than other vehicles:

Hybrids may protect occupants in crashes better than their nonhybrid counterparts, but they also may be as much as 20 percent more likely to be involved in pedestrian crashes with injuries than their conventional twins, a new Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) analysis indicates…

When hybrids operate in electric-only mode pedestrians can’t hear them approaching, says Matt Moore, HLDI vice president, so they might step out into the roadway without checking first to see what’s coming.

So, when it comes to safety, hybrids offer some benefits over traditional cars and some drawbacks. They’re not the perfect solution for the environment or for safety, but the many benefits offered by hybrids arguably outweigh the negatives, and this trend will likely increase over time as pedestrians become more familiar with these vehicles and thus more likely to be aware of their quiet approach. The increased familiarity will no doubt result in fewer car accidents with pedestrians and fewer injuries in the long run.

The Ankin Law Office LLC (www.ankinlaw.com) handles workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. You can reach the firm by calling (312) 346-8780.