It’s not news that hybrid vehicles leave their conventional-fuel competitors in the dust when it comes to fuel economy. But according to a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, it looks like the batteries and electric motors make hybrid vehicles safer, too.
In a study of 25 vehicles that featured both typical and hybrid powertrains from 2003 to 2011, the Highway Loss Data Institute found that 27% of occupants are less likely to be injured in a car crash in the hybrid version of the vehicle. That’s a huge percentage. According to the study, there are multiple reasons why the hybrid version might have been safer, but the vehicle’s weight likely played the most critical role. Heavier vehicles have been proven safer to occupants than lighter vehicles, because the heavier vehicle will transfer force to the lighter vehicle due to the added mass. The heavy batteries and electric motors used in hybrid vehicles gives them a weight boost over conventional-fuel models.
This is not only good news for occupants of the vehicle, but for insurance companies as well: hybrids need 25% less personal injury protection than their typical counterparts.
The HLDI also found that hybrid vehicles could present a higher danger to pedestrians due to their lack of engine sound. However, President Obama signed a law in early 2011 requiring all new hybrid and electric vehicles to have some sort of noise system to alert pedestrians, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is working on adjusting the law to require EVs to have pedestrian-alerting sounds on whenever the car is in motion.