Hybrids Are Safer Because They’re Heavy: Where Have We Heard this Before? [Video]

By Blake Z. Rong | November 17, 2011
Turns out, hybrid cars save lives as well as gas: a boon for those who already own them, undoubtedly. But it’s not down to driving behavior or secret unadvertised safety features that only hybrid drivers are entitled to: in fact, it’s simpler than you think. A study from the Highway Loss Data Institute compared crash data from hybrid models to their non-electrified counterparts, finding that if you’re in a hybrid, the odds of being injured in a crash are 25 percent lower.  Likewise, medical payouts were reduced at the same rate from accidents involving conventional cars. The result? Hybrids are safer because they cushion their drivers due to their higher weight. Wait! Doesn’t that sound familiar? That’s right; ironically enough, the allure of increased weight for crash protection was what drove people to buy gas-swilling SUVs in the first place. Batteries don’t come light. On average, hybrids are 10 percent heavier than their gasoline models. No matter how advanced small cars have gotten you still can’t defeat physics, and all that mass coddles its occupants at, potentially, the expense of others. The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety makes note of this through a demonstration of gratuitous Yaris destruction, and even goes so far to say that the downsizing of cars in the 1970s left occupants at a safety disadvantage, almost all but confirming my suspicions that the safest car on the road is in fact the 4,832-pound 1977 Chrysler New Yorker Brougham sedan. No word on whether sales of the GMC Yukon Hybrid have suddenly skyrocketed. Source: Insurance Institute For Highway Safety