A recent research study by the Highway Loss Data Institute, an affiliate of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety appear to show that, hybrid vehicles have an important safety edge over their conventional twins when it comes to shielding their occupants from injuries in crashes. The chances of being injured in a hybrid vehicle during a crash are 25% lower than for people traveling in conventional vehicles.

While hybrids share the same footprint and structure as their conventional counterparts, hybrids outweigh them because of the added bulk of additional batteries and associated components. The weight difference can exceed 400 pounds.

Toyota Hybrid

Attendees at the National Alternative Fuel Vehicle Day Odyssey event in Indianapolis, IN discuss safety features of a Toyota hybrid. Credit: NAFTC.

“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.” Additional factors, such as driving habits, also may contribute. The study’s researcher included controls to reduce the impact these differences may have had on the results.

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. Researchers compared the collision claim and injury reports of more than 25 hybrid and conventional pairs of the same make and model. All vehicles were sold between 2003 and 2011.

The Toyota Prius and Honda Insight were excluded from the study because they are only sold as hybrids. The analysis controlled for calendar year, rated driver age and gender, marital status, number of registered vehicles per square mile, garaging state, vehicle series, and vehicle age.

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