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New Study Shows Positive and Negative Aspects of Hybrids

Last week, DetNews.com reported a new study that shows that people who own and operate hybrid cars are, “25 percent less likely to be injured in a crash than their conventional counterparts.” Although this is exciting safety news for hybrid owners, the study also showed that hybrid drivers are 20 percent more likely to be involved in pedestrian related car accidents. These two results have one thing in common: they are both related to how heavy the vehicle is.

Because hybrids are 10 percent heavier than non-hybrids, they have an advantage when involved in car crashes. However, when involved in accidents with pedestrians, this extra mass can be harmful, even fatal. Some scientists attribute fewer accidents to the personality types of hybrid owners who are less likely to be involved in accidents than people that drive hybrids. These eco-conscious people are cautious about spending too much money on gas and may be more likely to be safer drivers because of these qualities.

The author of this study also reports that, because hybrid drivers are saving on gas, they have more money to spend on things such as car insurance to be protected and safe, should the driver be involved in an accident. But, when a person who is operating a hybrid is involved in an accident, they are more likely to cause significant harm to the other driver involved because of their heavier weight, making smaller cars more likely to be severely impacted. Due to this information, carmakers today are equipping cars with several more safety features, including extra air bags.

When it comes to being involved in a pedestrian accident, our Chicago car accident lawyers read that when hybrids are running on the electric portion, instead of the fuel, they are quieter making them harder for pedestrians to hear. The pedestrian could walk into the street, thinking that it is safe to cross or walk to their car, whatever they may need to do, when really there is a hybrid car coming.

Because of the significant amount of hybrids involved in pedestrian accidents, President Obama signed the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, which mandates that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration guarantee that hybrid cars are noisier to make their presence known to pedestrians. The sound is made when the hybrids are at lower speeds, but is not on at all times so it will not add extra sound to busy traffic where pedestrians are not present.

Some car-industry representatives believe that this study was helpful in showing that in future car models, mass needs to be taken into account for safety measures as well as noise control safety. Even organizations such as the Department of Transportation are working on creating a “sound standard” to ensure pedestrian safety.

Our Chicago car crash lawyers encourage bills such as the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, as well as car companies continuing to use new technologies and studies to make their cars safer. We hope that current hybrid owners will be careful in zones where pedestrians are present, because with their quiet sound, they may not be heard, and could end up severely injuring or even killing someone they share the road with.