Are Hybrids Safer; Yes or No?

Sunday’s Post 11.27.11 –  A study from Virginia based Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), notes that hybrid vehicles, which are typically weightier than non-hybrids of similar make, offer better protection for occupants during car crashes. The report revealed that the odds of sustaining serious injury during car accidents are 25 percent lower for hybrid occupants than for passengers in normal automobiles. Nevertheless, hybrids have a higher chance of hitting pedestrians due to their quieter engines.  According to the vice president of HLDI, who co-authored the report, hybrids load gives them an edge over normal automobiles during accidents. Typical hybrid models are roughly 10 percent heavier than standard cars. Extra bulk, from the battery, motor and electronic components; makes them safer than their gasoline counterparts during crashes. Hybrids have the same size as standard fuel vehicles of the same make, but internal components add to their overall weight. For instance, a mid-size Honda Accord sedan weights about 480lbs less, than its exact hybrid counterpart does. A conventional Toyota Highlander on the other hand, weights roughly 4,170lbs, 430lbs less than its hybrid design. In an accident scenario involving two vehicles of different sizes and weight, the bigger, bulkier model has the obvious advantage.  The scope of the study featured over twenty five hybrid and conventional automobile models manufactured from 2003 to 2011. All the car models featured in the study had at least one injury related claim, filed under personal injury protection or Medicare during the same period.

Auto insurance policies with collision coverage compensate both at fault and not at fault drivers, when they run into other vehicles or inanimate objects. The Personal Injury Protection (PIP) part of a car insurance policy settles medical costs for all car crash victims, regardless of who is to blame for the incident. Conversely, medical pay (MedPay) reimburses the cost of treatment for third parties who sustain injuries, whereby the driver is at fault. PIP insurance policies are available in states with no-fault insurance systems, while medical pay is offered in tort states. According to this study, collision related claims were 27 percent lower for hybrids than gasoline cars with similar PIP claims. They were also 25 percent lower than collision related claims with medical payments. Despite of this, hybrids also have their risky side. The study revealed that hybrids are 20 percent more likely to hit pedestrians than normal gasoline vehicles. Since their engines are quieter, pedestrians may fail to hear them approach and react when it is too late. In fact, hybrids are responsible for over 25,000 injury liability claims filed from 2002 to 2010. The National Highway Traffic Safety Association asserts that pedestrian crashes have become more frequent with the advent of hybrids on the road. In the early months of 2011, congress tasked the agency to develop a policy for fitting hybrids and electric cars with alert systems for unwary pedestrians.


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