These days, most new cars come with ample safety provisions. It’s not like years ago when automobiles were built with steel but nary a seatbelt in sight. Today you can expect even the most economically priced cars to come with a driver’s side airbag (and often one for passengers), head restraints, a firewall between you and the engine, an antilock braking system, flame-retardant upholstery (and other fuel integrity safeguards), and even rear window and door locks to ensure the safety of children. These items are standard for most vehicles due to federal or state regulations. But you are probably aware that some cars are safer than others. For example, wouldn’t you rather be involved in an accident in a truck or SUV rather than a sub-compact car? But when it comes to vehicle safety during a crash, it turns out that the cars you least expect are at the top of the list.
A study performed by the Highway Loss Data Institute has proven that being in an accident in a hybrid vehicle (as opposed to a counterpart that is solely fueled by petroleum products) is far safer for drivers. The study included statistics for 25 different hybrid vehicles (with model years ranging from 2003 to 2011) that come from a lineup that includes the same model with a gas-powered engine only. Notably missing from the study were big sellers like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight, although this wasn’t an oversight; both of these models are lacking a counterpart that operates only on gas.
So what were the results? Obviously, the hybrids came out ahead, but you might be surprised by the numbers. In fact, those that had accidents in hybrids were 27% less likely to suffer from injuries compared to those in accidents in gas-powered vehicles. Earlier you considered the possibility of an accident in a truck versus a sub-compact car and probably decided that the truck would come out on top. This is because the truck is a heavier vehicle, and as such, any force resulting from a collision will be transferred to a lighter automobile so that the truck (and its human cargo) would suffer less damage.
The same principle applies to a hybrid car. All things being equal, the electric engine components present in hybrids add a lot of weight. This used to be seen as a detriment, especially in the area of power and punch during acceleration. But now you can see it as a decided boon should you have the misfortune to find yourself in an accident situation.
And this is good news for drivers and their passengers, who will not only save at the pump but potentially opt out of injury or death in the event of an accident. But there’s more. Because the chance of personal injury has been reduced, payouts by insurance companies have also dropped for these vehicles; if you’re looking for a bargaining chip to reduce your auto insurance costs, you may have just found it. So perhaps it’s time to get rid of the used BMW engines and parts you’ve been hanging onto to upgrade your current gas-guzzler, and opt instead for a new hybrid. Keep in mind that there are government rebates on plug-in hybrids (and fully electric vehicles) and you’ll save a ton at the pump. The fact that these cars could save your life doesn’t hurt, either.