“On average, the odds of being injured in a crash are 25 percent lower for people in hybrids than people traveling in nonhybrid models,” the HLDI reports.
The main reason the HLDI says hybrids are safer for passengers is that they typically weigh more than their gas-powered siblings due to their heavy battery packs.
“For instance, a Toyota Highlander Hybrid weighs about 4,500 pounds compared to 4,170 pounds for the gas-powered Highlander,” Kicking Tires reports. “The extra mass gives the weightier vehicle an advantage in a crash because it will push a smaller, lighter car backward on impact, according to IIHS.”
The HLDI, which is an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, says that it comes down to physics. “In a collision involving two vehicles that differ in size and weight, the people in the smaller, lighter vehicle will be at a disadvantage,” the HLDI says. The HLDI study analyzed gas-only vehicles with a hybrid sibling, so hybrids like the Toyota Prius weren’t included because they have no gas-only version.
Despite doing a better job of protecting occupants in a crash compared with their gas-only siblings, the HLDI says that hybrid cars can be more dangerous for pedestrians. Hybrid vehicles are up to 20 percent more likely to be involved in a crash with a pedestrian compared with their gas-powered counterparts.
“At low speeds in densely built areas, hybrid cars and pure electric vehicles rely on electric propulsion,” MSNBC reports. “That makes them much quieter than gas-powered cars, posing a risk to pedestrians.”
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