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How safe are hybrid vehicles in collisions?

November 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Which type of vehicle is safer in a car crash: a hybrid or a non-hybrid? In the latest crash-test results from the Highway Loss Data Institute released Thursday, hybrids have the edge.

With fuel prices as high as they are and rising, many consumers are looking for ways to save at the pump and car manufacturers are helping out.

More and more hybrid vehicles are being produced that offer consumers some of the best fuel economy on the road today.

But just how safe are they? A Highway Loss Data Institute video says hybrids do a better job in a collision because they're heavier than non-hybrids.

"When a lighter vehicle collides with a heavier vehicle, the lighter vehicle was moved backwards," said Matt Moore, vice president, Highway Loss Data Institute. "As a consequence, the occupants of the lighter vehicle are subjected to higher crash forces than the occupants of the heavier vehicle."

Hybrids are about 10 percent heavier because of the batteries, and that's a good thing.

"The additional weight gives the hybrids a real safety advantage," said Moore. On average, your odds of being injured in a hybrid vehicle are about 25 percent lower than if you were in a non-hybrid version of the same vehicle."

Although hybrids can be safer for the occupants, studies show they chalk up more injury claims for pedestrians. That's because when hybrids are in electric-only mode, pedestrians don't hear them approaching and might step in front of one.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has three years to come up with a solution to equip hybrids with sounds to alert unsuspecting pedestrians.

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