Hybrid Cars—The Quiet Killer

Wednesday’s Post 12/21/11 –  According to recent studies, hybrid cars may be much safer for its passengers. On the other hand, because of  their weight and reduced noise; pedestrians are unlikely to hear an approaching hybrid increasing chances  and severity of  serious accidents.  From statistics gathered by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) of Virginia, chances of being injured (as passenger) in a crash of a hybrid model are 25% less than that of their non-hybrid counterparts. The group, which is an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, says that weight is a big element in the safety of the car. In general, Hybrids are heavier than a standard compact car. The added weight is because of its battery packs and other parts that are necessary in dual-power systems. A hybrid Honda Accord weighs around 3,600 while a conventional Accord just weighs 3,120 pounds. That’s a 4,500-pound difference.  It is a proven fact that in a collision, the passengers in a larger, heavier car have a greater chance of survival than those in a smaller car. The greater the weight of the car, the less severe the impact would be in the event of an accident.

Auto Insurance Collision Coverage deals with the replacement or restoration of an at-fault or not-fault driver’s car after a  Car Accident. Personal Injury Protection or PIP deals with the medical expenses of the injuries of those involved in a crash regardless of who the driver at-fault is. Medical Payments or Medpay deals with the treatment costs of the insured driver and his passengers when he is the one at-fault. PIP is endorsed in states that have no-fault insurance systems while MedPay is endorsed in tort states. Bodily injury liability coverage insures against medical, hospital, and other expenses for injuries that at-fault drivers cause in an accident. On the other side, the study has also found out that hybrid cars are 20% more likely to be involved in pedestrian crashes, in comparison to conventional cars. Because of the noiseless nature of hybrid cars when operating in electric-only mode, pedestrians are less likely to check left-and-right before crossing the road, fears Matt Moore, Vice President of HLDI.

Between 2004 and 2010, over 25,300 bodily injury liability claims have already been made that are related to hybrid cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is aware of the increased pedestrian risk and is currently addressing ways to reduce the risks.  Ten months ago, the Congress gave the department three years to mandate hybrids and electric models to equip themselves with alert sounds to notify unsuspecting pedestrians.


Michael E. Dortch
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