How Safe are Hybrid Cars?
Environmental concerns, decreasing reliance on foreign oil, and lower fuel costs are just a few of the reasons to choose a hybrid car. The question is how safe are hybrid cars compared to traditional rides?
Crash Test Ratings
The best way to compare crash test ratings of hybrids and traditional gas-engine vehicles is to compare the crash test ratings of the traditional make to the hybrid version of the same vehicle.
- 2014 Ford Fusion: The Ford Fusion, a mid-size sedan, is available in both traditional an hybrid models. Both models received 5-star overall safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, along with 5 stars for frontal crash, 4 stars for side crash and 4 stars for rollover.
- 2014 Honda Accord: The Honda Accord, is similar to the Fusion in size, fuel economy and power. Like the Fusion, both traditional and hybrid models of the Accord received 5-start overall safety ratings from the NHTSA. Both models received 4 stars for frontal crashes, 5 stars for side crashes and 5 stars for rollover crashes.
- 2014 Toyota Camry: The Camry is in the same class with both the Fusion and the Accord. Although the MPG for the Camry is a bit lower compared to the others, it is still a commendable 43 City/39 Highway. The Camry receives a 5-star overall rating for both gas-powered and hybrid engines. The rest of the scores are: 4 star for frontal crashes, 5 stars for side crashes and 4 stars for rollover accidents.
- Volkswagen Jetta: Neither the NHTSA nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has a complete safety profile for either of the Jetta models, although the NHTSA has given both models 4 stars for frontal and rollover crashes.
This data seems to confirm that the hybrid versions are just as safe as the gas-powered versions of the same car. Some of the concerns with the safety of hybrid vehicles may be in car accidents where emergency or tow-workers must deal with the hybrid vehicle.
Critics are concerned that the high voltage running through hybrid and all-electric vehicles could be dangerous to paramedics, other emergency responders and tow workers. It seems that these first responders aren't too concerned about the danger. “Everything we do is a hazard. This is just a new hazard that we need to get trained and educated on,” said Miami Beach Fire Department spokesman Javier Otero to MSN.
Yes, the batteries house chemicals. But hybrid vehicles cause no greater concern than traditional vehicles. The NiMH batteries are often housed in metal cases and insulated from the bodies of the cars. Ford spokesperson Nick Twork stated, “There's a very, very low likelihood that anybody would be injured with the precautions that are built into the [hybrid or electric] vehicle. It should be no different than dealing with any gasoline-powered car.” Jesus Almeda, training instructor for Honda, agrees, “If you do what you're supposed to do, it's no different from any other car.”