On average, the odds of being injured in a crash are 25 percent lower for people in hybrids than people traveling in non-hybrid models. Hybrids have a safety edge over their conventional twins when it comes to shielding their occupants from injuries in crashes, new research by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, shows.
"Weight is a big factor," says Matt Moore, HLDI vice president and an author of the report. "Hybrids on average are 10 percent heavier than their standard counterparts. This extra mass gives them an advantage in crashes that their conventional twins don't have." He notes that other factors, such as how, when, and by whom hybrids are driven, also may contribute. Researchers included controls to reduce the impact these differences may have had on the results.
Although hybrids share the same footprint and structure as their conventional counterparts, they outweigh them because of the added heft of battery packs and other components used in dual-power systems. At about 3,600 pounds, a hybrid Honda Accord midsize sedan, for example, can weigh as much as 480 pounds more than a conventional Accord. A hybrid Toyota Highlander, a midsize SUV, weighs about 4,500 pounds, compared with about 4,170 pounds for the conventional Highlander.
Even with advances in occupant protection, larger vehicles still are safer choices than smaller ones. That's why downsizing vehicles to improve fuel efficiency has traditionally resulted in safety trade-offs. The trend among automakers nowadays is to boost fuel economy by designing more efficient internal combustion engines and by adding hybrids to their fleets.
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Source: Highway Loss Data Institute, News Release – Nov 17, 2011