Hybrid Vehicle Accidents – What You Need to Know!

Hybrid and electric vehicles have garnered a nice share of the U.S. automobile market with their eco-friendly mileage efficiency and reduced gas emissions.  Even so, recent studies show there are a couple of significant hybrid vehicle shortcomings that you should be aware of – and both are related to crashes.

  1. Hybrid Vehicles have Higher Rates of Accidents Involving Hybrids and Pedestrians and Bicyclists

According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report, hybrid vehicles are about 50% more likely to be involved in pedestrian crashes than regular gasoline engine vehicles[1].  Additionally, hybrid vehicles are twice as likely to be involved in accidents with cyclists than non-hybrid or electric vehicles. 

Why are hybrid vehicles more likely to be involved in these types of crashes? 

When operating in electric mode, the hybrid vehicle was designed to be practically silent.  There is virtually no sound from the engine, and minimal noise from the tires.  When hybrid vehicles move slowly, move in reverse, or stop, pedestrians and bicyclists are unable to hear the vehicles.  Although we may not realize it, we rely on sound as a warning of a vehicle approaching.  Lack of sound means that these vehicles approach without warning and are more likely to cause crashes with pedestrians and cyclists.  With this information in mind, hybrid vehicle drivers should be extra aware of pedestrians and bicyclists, especially when operating in electric-only mode.

Furthermore, it makes complete sense that the National Federation for the Blind has requested automakers set a standard noise level minimum for hybrids and electric vehicles.  At least a minimal sound will help pedestrians and bicyclists, especially those with slight or no vision, to hear these vehicles.  In response, a rule was enacted in 2016 by the NHTSA requiring hybrid manufacturers to alter vehicles so that they emit noise when stopped or when moving under 20 mph.  Manufacturers were initially required to comply with the rule by September 1, 2019, but it looks like full compliance has been extended to 2020.

  1. Hybrid Crashes Can Cause Fires Posing High Risk Danger to Passengers and First Responders

The other critical downside related to hybrid vehicles is the serious fire hazard posed to passengers and emergency responders during and after a crash.  The danger is caused by the linkage of the high voltage cables and the battery.  If hybrid or electric vehicles catch fire, the high voltage used in these vehicles can cause the fire to burn for extended periods as well as to reignite once the fire is extinguished.  If there is a fire, huge amounts of water are needed to smolder battery fires – and may take up to 24 hours before the fire is completely out. 

This has become a new challenge for fire fighters and first responders. Emergency responders need to ensure that no electricity is running through cables before they can use the Jaws of Life, if necessary, to remove a person from a vehicle.  Consequently, new best practices and specialized training for managing alternative fuel vehicle crashes and fires have become critical for emergency response teams across the nation. 

If you drive a hybrid vehicle, enjoy the efficiencies but beware of these two important risks.

If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury involving a hybrid vehicle, we may be able to help.  Contact the reputable attorneys at Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. today for a free consultation.

Goldman & Daszkal, P.A.

Since 1990, Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. has provided reputable legal representation to people throughout the state of Florida.  The firm has helped thousands of individuals recover compensation from motor vehicle and boating accidents, slip and fall accidents, product defect and liability cases, pharmacy errors, and negligent security cases to cover medical expenses, pay bills, take care of their families, and return to work.  Goldman & Daszkal, P.A. can help you get the relief you need to start living your life again after a serious injury.  For a free and confidential consultation, contact Goldman & Daszkal, P.A., at (954) 428-9333. 

[1] https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811526