Well, log another notch in the bedpost: One more safety myth--that electric cars will be more dangerous than regular ones in a crash--has now been slain.

Five weeks ago, the Insurance Industry for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave top ratings for crash safety to both the 2011 Nissan Leaf and the 2011 Chevy Volt, the pair of new plug-in electric cars on sale from major manufacturers.

Now, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has concurred, awarding the 2011 Volt five stars for overall vehicle safety. That too is its highest rating.

Specifically, the Volt was awarded five stars for side-crash and rollover tests, and four stars for frontal crash.

2011 Chevrolet Volt in IIHS crash test

2011 Chevrolet Volt in IIHS crash test

The NHTSA site notes that the Volt has standard electronic stability control, but does not offer lane-departure or forward-collision warning.

The agency toughened its tests for the 2011 model year, since a large majority of cars had managed to achieve top ratings under the previous test regime.

The changes included adding a new side-impact test that simulated a crash at 20 mph into a pole or tree just behind the windshield pillar on the driver's side.

Wondering why the windshield pillars on new cars are so thick? The new test may be part of the reason.

Thus far, the NHTSA has not released crash-test ratings for the 2011 Nissan Leaf.

[NHTSA, Chevrolet]


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