2012 Honda Civic HybridEnlarge Photo
There are many good reasons to drive a hybrid car, but did you know that one of them is improved safety levels?
It's true - according to data gathered by the Highway Loss Data Institute (via Automotive News), crashing in hybrid vehicles like the Honda Accord Hybrid or Toyota Highlander Hybrid is less likely to result in injury compared to an equivalent regular gasoline car. On average, the odds are 25 percent lower.
Heavier still equals safer
One major factor seems to be the extra weight that hybrids carry in batteries and electrical systems. At this point, safety begins to come down to simple physics, the extra mass giving them an advantage over regular cars. Occupants in a slightly heavier car will endure less force than occupants in a lighter vehicle involved in the collision.
The research also shows that driving style and when hybrids are driven can have an impact on the figures - hybrid drivers might take fewer risks, for example, meaning that accidents are likely to be less serious when they happen.
Silent but deadly?
While the results look good for the drivers of hybrids, the news is less good for pedestrians.
Further research done by the HLDI suggests that hybrids may be as much as 20 percent more likely to be involved in an incident with a pedestrian.
The data suggests that the lack of sound at low speed is still a factor, when some hybrids operate silently on electric power alone. The data adds weight to the decision to fit electric cars with a noise generator to alert pedestrians at lower speeds. The same may soon be required on hybrid cars, too.
The report doesn't suggest that in reality, responsibility should lie with the pedestrians and drivers to pay attention to their surroundings rather than the manufacturer of quieter cars, but perhaps that's just us being cynical.
The report also excludes the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius hybrids from the findings, as both are only available as hybrid vehicles so no hybrid-to-regular car comparison is possible.
When it comes to reducing injuries in collisions though, it's reassuring to know that unlike some of the more flimsy economy cars of the past, buying a car with great gas mileage no longer means sacrificing on safety.