Less chance of injury in a hybrid vehicle

Injury odds 25 percent lower in a hybrid

November 18, 2011
by Fleet Management staff

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA — Hybrids have a safety edge over conventional cars when it comes to shielding their occupants from injuries in crashes, new research by the US-based Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, shows. On average, the odds of being injured in a crash are 25 percent lower for people in hybrids than people traveling in nonhybrid models.

“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 effect these differences may have had on the results.

The new finding is more good news for green-minded fleet managers who don’t want to trade safety for fuel economy. Not so long ago, car buyers had to choose between the two because fuel-efficient cars tended to be smaller and lighter. Now, buyers have more options than ever when it comes to picking an environmentally friendly — and crashworthy — vehicle.

“Saving at the pump no longer means you have to skimp on crash protection,” Moore says.

In the study, HLDI estimated the odds that a crash would result in injuries if people were riding in a hybrid versus the conventional version of the same vehicle. The analysis included more than 25 hybrid-conventional vehicle pairs, all 2003-11 models, with at least one collision claim and at least one related injury claim filed under personal injury protection or medical payment coverage in 2002-10.